Skip to main content

Full text of "History of Halifax County"

See other formats






Superintendent Weldon Public Schools 


A child's history of north CAROLINA 





Copyright, 1918, by 
The Cornhill Company 

MAR 22 1919 



In September, 1915, Mrs. W. C. Allen, at the time. 
President of the Junius Daniel Chapter of the United 
Daughters of the Confederacy, of Weldon, suggested to 
the chapter the idea of writing the history of Halifax 
County as the year's work. The membership responded 
enthusiastically to the suggestion and unanimously de- 
cided to begin the task. 

An outline of the county's history was made and top- 
ics assigned for investigation. The following members 
contributed papers : Mesdames Ida Wilkins, W. E. Dan- 
iel, J. W. Sledge, J. A. Johnston, Lee Johnson, J. A. 
Musgrove, W. A. Pierce, 0. W. Pierce, J. W. Pierce, 
T. C. Harrison, J. S. Turner, L. C. Draper, R. S. 
Travis, John Zollicoffer, W. L. Knight, Ashby Dunn, H. 
D. Allen, W. T. Shaw, and Misses Mary Sledge, Julia 
Rhem, Laura Powers, and Annie Musgrove. These pa- 
pers, together with notes and additions by the editor, con- 
stitute the story as it appears in this volume. In order to 
secure harmony of expression the editor has had to re- 
write most of the material that was handed in. He has 
had also to verify the facts in order to be sure that there 
should be no misstatements. It is believed that a true 
story of the county is herein given. 

Halifax is one of the real historic counties of the state,. 
for within its borders some of the most important events 
in the making of North Carolina have taken place. Many 
of the men who have had much to do with the shaping of 
the State have either been natives of the county or have 
resided here at different periods of their lives. Through- 
out the colonial and Revolutionary periods, as well as the 
years since, Halifax County has played a conspicious part 
in the stirring events that have made North Carolina 


history so interesting and in the development of the 
State's resources. 

With the hope that this little volume will help to in- 
troduce Halifax County more intimately to its own peo- 
ple and serve to make it better known to people of other 
counties and states, the authors and editor now send it 
iorth upon its mission. 
















The Original Inhabitants 3 

The Evolution of the County .... 6 

Early Settlements 9 

Formation of the County 14 

Forerunners of the Regulator Movement 18 


Leading up to the Revolution .... 26 
Halifax County and National Independ- 
ence 30 

National Independence Proclaimed in 

Halifax 36 

The Birthplace of the State Constitu- 
tion 40 

Early Days of the Revolution ... 44 

Halifax County and the American Navy 48 

Passing Events 52 

XIV. The British Occupation of Halifax . . 56 
XV. Years Succeeding the Revolution ... 62 
XVI. Halifax County and the National Consti- 
tution 65 

XVII. First Two Decades of the Nineteenth 

Century 69 

XVIII. The Visit of Lafayette 73 

XIX. Intellectual Development 76 

XX. Social and Economic Development . . 80 

XXI. Coming of the Railroads 86 



XXII. "Royal White Hart Lodge" 92 

XXIII. Events Leading to the Civil War ... 99 

XXIV. In the Legislative Halls of the State . 102 
XXV. The Call to Arms 106 

XXVI. War's Alarms 110 

XXVII. The Construction and Service of the 

Albemarle 115 

XXVIIL Closing Incidents of the War .... 121 

XXIX. Reconstruction Days 128 

XXX. Since Reconstruction Days 132 

XXXI. Some Odds and Ends of History . . 136 
XXXII. Summary 143 


Builders of the County 

I. Joseph Montford 149 

II. John Baptista Ashe 151 

HI. Willie Jones 153 

rV. William R. Davie 156 

V. James Hogan 162 

VI. Samuel Weldon 165 

VII. John Haywood 165 

VIII. Willis Alston 168 

IX. Willis Alston, Jr 169 

X. Nicholas Long 170 

XI. Orondates Davis 171 

XII. John Bradford 172 

XIII. John Paul Jones 173 

XIV. Abraham Hodge 176 

XV. John Branch 177 

XVI. Hutchings G. Burton 181 

XVII. Joseph J. Daniel 183 



XVIII. John R. J. Daniel 185 

XIX. Bynum and Potter 186 

XX. Bartholomew F. Moore 188 

XXI. Andrew Joyner 190 

XXII. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch 192 

XXIII. Edward Conigland 194 

XXIV. Junius Daniel 196 

XXV. Francis M. Parker 201 

XXVI. Spier Whitaker 202 

XXVII. Walter N. Allen 204 

XXVIII. Thomas L. Emry 206 

XXIX. Richard H. Smith 209 

XXX. George Green Lynch 212 

XXXI. Thomas N. Hill 215 

XXXII. Peter Evans Smith 218 

XXXIII. Robert O. Burton, D. D 220 

XXXIV. Robert O. Burton, Jr 223 

XXXV. William T. Shaw, Jr. ...... . 227 

Others Who Have Wrought 229 


Map of Halifax County Facing 

Whitfield Avenue, Enfield, N. C. . 

Grave of Joseph Montford .... " 

Continental Currency " 

George Washington " 

John Paul Jones " 

Battle between the Serapis and Bon- 

homme Richard " 

William R. Davie " 

John Haywood " 

Lafayette's Return " 

The Roanoke River, near Weldon, N. C. " 

Royal White Hart Lodge " 

B. F. Moore 

Confederate Monument, Weldon, N. C. " 

William R. Cox 

The General Davis Home, Halifax, N. C. " 
Old Trinity Church, Scotland Neck, 

N. C 

The Grove House " 

Reception to Washington .... " 
The Roanoke Mills, Roanoke Rapids, 

N. C 

A Typical Southern Scene .... " 

Washington Avenue, Weldon, N. C. . " 

Colonial Cemetery, Halifax, N. C. . " 

Main Street, Roanoke Rapids, N. C. . " 






72 ■ 



128 • 

152 u' 







One of the Good Roads, Halifax County, 

N. C Facing Page 200 

Court House, Halifax, N. C " " 208 

M. W. Ransom " "216 

Main Street, Littleton, N. C. . . . " " 224 



Halifax County is situated in the northern portion of 
North Carolina, the most northerly point of the county 
lacking only about six miles of touching the Virginia 
State line. The Roanoke river skirts its northeastern 
border and Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Tar river, 
bounds it on the southwest. A strip of Martin County 
joins Halifax on the south. Warren County is on the 

The county is slightly triangular in shape, the narrow 
part of the triangle being the southwestern portion and 
broadening toward the northeast. It is about sixty miles 
long and averages about twenty miles wide, and contains 
nearly 681 square miles of land surface. 

In the southeastern section of the county, along the 
banks of the Roanoke river, the surface is level and the soil 
IS exceedingly fertile. In the northwestern division, par- 
ticularly west of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, 
the surface is rolling, resembling very much the Piedmont 
section of the state. Near the larger water courses, mini- 
ature canyons are frequent, through which the smaller 
streams flow in their ceaseless journey to the larger ones. 
At frequent intervals, along the Roanoke, "guts" pour 
their muddy volume of water into the giant stream. 

On account of a curious topography, more than three- 
fourths of the drainage is south and southwest into Fish- 
ing Creek, the water shed lying quite close to the south 
bank of the Roanoke. 

Besides the Roanoke river and Fishing Creek, which 
are not wholly within the county, there are a number of 
other water ways that give form and character to the 


surface. Flowing into the Roanoke, are Kehukee, Look- 
ing Glass, Quanky, Chockayotte, and Deep Creeks, and 
Conocanara and Cypress Swamps. Into Fishing Creek 
the following streams find their way: Deep, Powells, 
Butterwood, and Little Fishing Creeks and Marsh, Beech, 
Beaver Dam, Burnt Coat, Rocky, Jack Horse, and Bear 
swamps. Besides these, numerous rivulets and "branch- 
es" wind hither and thither in meadows and valleys. 
There are two Deep Creeks, one in the northern and an- 
other in the southern end of the county. 

The climate is mild, highly suitable either for summer 
or winter residence and free from the extremes of either 
season. Out-door work is seldom interrupted by ex- 
cessive heat or cold, or violent storms. The ground is 
seldom covered with snow for more than a few hours at 
the time. The mean annual temperature is about 58 de- 

In the eastern and southern portions of the county, the 
soil is a gray sandy loam with a brown or red subsoil. In 
the western and northern section, a red clay subsoil and 
sandy loam predominate. Along the water ways, the 
soil is, in many j)laces, made up of rich vegetable deposits 
and is very fertile. 

The chief crops are cotton, corn, tobacco, potatoes, pea- 
nuts, hay, and oats. Many a farmer averages more than 
one hundred dollars an acre for his money crops. 

The water power, supplied by the Roanoke river, is a 
source of present as well as future prosperity. From a 
point five miles above Roanoke Rapids, the river makes a 
fall of eighty-five feet to Weldon, thus furnishing a source 
of almost unlimited power. Numerous factories at Roa- 
noke Rapids, Rosemary, and Weldon are supplied from 
this source, and those towns are also furnished with elec- 
tric lights thereby. 

In the eastern division of the county, the forest growth 
belongs to the normal type of upland piney woods, mixed 
with red cedar. Pine is the most important timber pro- 
duct. Oak predominates in the western portion with an 


intermixture of hickory, sweetgum, and dogwood. Near 
the river banks, the willow, ash, sycamore, maple, and 
cypress flourish. 

Roanoke river, in the last few years, has been stocked 
with rockfish. Abundant also are shad, carp, catfish, and 
several other varieties. At certain seasons of the year 
the fishing interests are valuable. 

For many years, both before and after the War be- 
tween the States, the county was well supplied with deer, 
but the vigilance of the hunter has rendered that kind of 
game scarce. Squirrels and quails are found in large num- 
bers in all parts of the county. Wild turkeys are found in 
certain sections. Wild geese and ducks are hunted on the 
Roanoke during the winter months. 

Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people. 
Manufacturing cotton goods, hosiery, damask, pulp, and 
lumber form another important line of business. Peanut 
factories, cotton seed oil mills, fertilizer factories, and box 
factories also give employment to hundreds of men and 

In 1916, the aggregate value of real and personal 
property in the county was over ten million dollars. 

There are six towns of considerable importance, name- 
ly, Enfield, Halifax, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary, Scotland 
Neck, and Weldon. Besides these, there are Hobgood, 
Tillery, Palmyra, Hollister, Ringwood, and Thelma. Lit- 
tleton, a town of much importance, is partly in Halifax 
and partly in Warren County. Halifax has the distinction 
of having been at different times the seat of government 
of the province and afterwards of the new State. It also 
has the higher distinction of being the birthplace of the 
State Constitution and where the famous Independence 
Resolutions were passed April 12, 1776. Enfield is the 
oldest town in the county and was for several years the 
seat of Edgecombe county when it included Halifax. En- 
field was also for a number of years the site of the district 
court of the counties of Edgecombe, Granville, Bute, and 


Weldon, Roanoke Rapids, and Rosemary are extensive- 
ly engaged in manufacturing. Scotland Neck is in the 
centre of the peanut industry, and is one of the largest 
markets in the world for that product. Hollister is a new 
town near the Warren County line where extensive lum- 
ber manufacturing is done. Hobgood is the junction of 
two branches of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. 

There are twelve townships in the county as follows: 
Brinkleyville, Butterwood, Conocanara, Enfield, Faucetts, 
Halifax, Littleton, Palmyra, Roanoke Rapids, Roseneath, 
Scotland Neck, and Weldon. 

Two trunk lines of railroads traverse the county. The 
Atlantic Coast Line, the highway from New York to Flor- 
ida, crosses the central section of the county. The Sea- 
board Air Line passes through the northern portion and 
makes connection at Weldon with the Atlantic Coast Line. 
The Kinston Branch extends from Weldon to Kinston 
in Lenoir County through one of the finest sections of 
Halifax County. 

There are extensive cotton and knitting mills at Roa- 
noke Rapids, Rosemary, Weldon, and Scotland Neck. 
There is also a large pulp mill at Roanoke Rapids. A 
large lumber plant at Weldon exports large quantities of 
lumber. Peanut factories at Weldon and Scotland Neck 
prepare immense quantities of peanuts for the northern 
and western markets. There is at Weldon, also, an ice 
plant that supplies a large section of country. 

Great improvements are constantly being made in 
building and equipping school houses, in the standardiz- 
ing of the teaching force, in the enrichment of the course 
of study, and in the attendance of pupils. Besides the ru- 
ral public schools that are found in every neighborhood, 
there are successfully operated city graded schools in 
Weldon, Enfield, Littleton, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary, 
and Scotland Neck. At Littleton, there is a college for the 
education of girls. At Enfield is the School of Technology 
for the colored race. 







Previous to the coming of white people, the Tuscarora 
tribe, or nation, of Indians held sway over the whole of 
Halifax County. They were the dominant peoples in 
Eastern North Carolina before the Albemarle country 
was settled. It is difficult to make an estimate as to the 
numbers of Indians that occupied the territory of the 
county at the time of the first settlements in the State. 
Excavations in various sections have brought to light 
many remains of that extinct race, which lead to the opin- 
ion that they were numerous along the banks of the Roa- 
noke river and Fishing creek, but few and scattered in 
other places. Perhaps there were never more than a 
thousand in the county. 

The country possessed by the Tuscaroras lay mostly 
along the Roanoke river, on both sides, and on the Neuse 
and the Tar. Other tribes in Eastern North Carolina 
were under the control to a large extent of the Tuscaro- 
ras and acknowledged their sway. Among these smaller 
tribes may be mentioned the Meherrins and the Yeopins, 
who lived in what is now Currituck, Camden, Pasquo- 
tank, Gates, and Northampton counties ; the Pungos, the 
Chowanokes, and Croatans in what is now embraced in 
the counties of Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Tyr- 
rell, Dare, and Hertford; and the Corees, the Matche- 


pungos, and the Mattamusketts in Hyde, Beaufort, Car- 
teret, and Pamlico. Besides these, there were several 
other smaller and less important tribes ; but none of them 
lived in Halifax County. 

It is remarkable that for more than fifty years after 
the first settlements of white people in North Carolina 
there was complete peace between the races. While there 
were dreadful Indian wars and massacres in Virginia and 
the New England colonies, peace reigned in North Caro- 
lina between the white man and his red skin brother. This 
condition may be accounted for on the ground that the 
early settlers were regardful of the rights of the Indian, 
careful not to take their lands without recompense, pay- 
ing them honestly for their furs, and abstaining from all 
acts of violence and hasty vengeance. 

As in other parts of North Carolina, the Indians of 
Halifax County were living in a savage state. Their culti- 
vation of the soil was of the rudest kind. Hardly any 
agricultural products were raised. Only a little Indian 
corn and a few potatoes, pumpkins, and melons were 
grown. The entire county with few exceptions was an 
unbroken wilderness. The women did what little agri- 
cultural work was done. The men hunted the deer, the 
raccoon, the buffalo, and the wild turkey. The dress of 
both men and women was of the simplest sort, consisting 
of skins and gorgeous headgear. Their homes were the 
wigwam made in the easiest way of poles covered with 
bark or skins of beasts that had been killed in the chase. 
In religion, they were pagan, believing in a Great Spirit 
that presided over the happy hunting ground of the be- 

Nothwithstanding the fact that these Indians were few 
and in the lowest savage state, they have left some im- 
pression upon the county. Besides the relics that have 
been found in various localities, consisting of arrow heads 
and tomahawks of stone and specimens of pottery, they 
have left some names, such as Quanky, Chockayotte, Ke- 
hukee, and Conocanara. 


It is not known how soon the Indians vanished from 
the history of the county, but it is fairly well conjectured 
that nearly all of them had departed before 1720. At the 
close of the Indian War in 1713, the remaining Tusca- 
roras left the State and went to New York except the 
friendly Indians under "King Blunt," who were given 
lands in what is now Bertie County. It is thought that 
the last of the tribe in Halifax County left a few years 
later and joined their brethren in New York, where they 
united with the Iroquois, making the sixth nation of that 
powerful confederacy. Halifax County was thus clear 
of Indians at the time the white settlers began to come. 

An incident is related of those early times that shows 
some of the traits of the red men of that day. While the 
Tuscaroras were occupying the "Indian Woods" in Ber- 
tie County, some of them often came to Halifax. On one 
of these trips, an Indian chief became desperately anxious 
for a bearskin blanket that belonged to Willie Jones, a 
prominent resident of Halifax. To make it known that 
he wanted the blanket, the chief told Mr. Jones that he 
had dreamed that the blanket was his. Indians then 
thought that dreams must come true. Mr. Jones readily 
made the chief a present of the blanket. Shortly after- 
wards the chief came again to Halifax. Mr. Jones called 
the Indian to him and said, "I dreamed last night that 
you gave me a tract of land of 500 acres in the Indian 

"Ah! Willie, you beat me. You may have the land, but 
let's not dream any more," replied the chief. 

It is not known whether or not Mr. Jones took advan- 
tage of this gift. 



About 1656, the first permanent settlements in what is 
now North Carolina were made on the eastern side of the 
Chowan river by emigrants from Virginia. By 1663, the 
population had increased to such an extent that the Lords 
Proprietors, to whom Charles II, , king of England, had 
granted the territory of North and South Carolina, com- 
missioned William Berkley, one of the Proprietors and, 
at the time, governor of Virginia, to appoint a governor 
for the colony of Albemarle. Berkley probably did not 
exercise his authority except by advice, for from a letter 
of the Proprietors to the new governor, William Drum- 
mond, it is very clear that they themselves commissioned 
him. In this letter of instruction to Governor Drum- 
mond the country is called the county of Albemarle, 
named in honor of the Duke of Albemarle, one of the Pro- 
prietors, the famous George Monk, who was one of the 
Parliamentary generals under Cromwell, and, after the 
collapse of the commonwealth, was the chief instrument 
in the restoration of Charles II. to the throne, and was 
rewarded for his services by being appointed to the peer- 

In 1722, on account of the increase of population west 
of the Chowan river, the Colonial Assembly with the sanc- 
tion of the governor and his council organized Bertie pre- 
cinct, which is described in the act of the Assembly as 
follows: "That that part of Albemarle County lying on 
the west side of Chowan river, being part of Chowan 
precinct, bounded to the northward by the line dividing 
this government from Virginia, and to the southward by 
Albemarle sound and Morotuck river, as far up as 
Welch's Creek, and then including both sides of said river 


and the branches thereof, as far as the limits of this gov- 
ernment, be, and the same is hereby declared to be erect- 
ed into a precinct by the name of Bertie precinct in Al- 
bemarle County." 

"Morotuck" river as given in the wording of the act 
will be readily recognized as the Roanoke, the ancient In- 
dian name being used instead of the modern one. Welch's 
Creek is a few miles up the Roanoke from Plymouth. So 
it is easily concluded that the present county of Halifax 
was included in this early precinct of Bertie. 

In May, 1732, Governor Burrington and his council 
sitting at Edenton heard a "Petition of the south side of 
Roanoke river. Fishing Creek, and places adjacent," pray- 
ing to have a new precinct erected on the south side of 
Roanoke river extending as far up as the mouth of Cono- 
canara Creek. The petition was favorably acted on and 
the precinct formed and named Edgecombe. In October 
of the same year, the limits of Edgecombe precinct were 
more clearly defined so far as the portion bordering the 
Roanoke river was concerned. The eastern point was to 
be the Rainbow Banks, which is about two miles below 
the town of Hamilton, and the northern and western to 
be the southern line of Virginia. 

Two members of the governor's council, Nathaniel Rice 
and John Baptista Ashe, protested against the formation 
of new precincts by the governor and his council with- 
out the concurrence of the popular branch of the Assem- 
bly as being in derogation of its rights. The governor and 
the other members were equally as determined as those 
two for the formation of the new precinct. So two me- 
morials went to the Board of Trade in London, one from 
Ashe and Rice and another from the governor and his 
council, each memorial setting forth the reasons for and 
against the erection of the precinct, and each referring to 
the other in no complimentary terms. From that time, for 
about ten years, the contention was kept up as to the le- 
gality of the act of the council, and Edgecombe precinct 
was a name only, its representatives being denied seats in 


the Assembly. Finally at the session of the Colonial As- 
sembly in 1741, under the administration of Gabriel John- 
ston, the act was confirmed and ratified, and the precinct 
of Edgecombe was thus established and allowed two rep- 
resentatives in the Assembly. 

Many of the deeds recorded in Book I in the office of 
the Register of Deeds at Halifax, bearing dates between 
1732 and 1741, locate the lands either in Bertie or Edge- 
combe precinct as the views of the draughtsman dictated. 
The deeds also, whenever the county is mentioned, locate 
the lands in Albemarle County, which shows that what is 
now Halifax County, in 1732 was either Bertie or Edge- 
combe precinct in the county of Albemarle. In 1738, an 
act of the Assembly changed the precincts into counties 
and so Edgecombe precinct became Edgecombe County. 

In 1746, the northern portion of Edgecombe, that is the 
portion north and west of the present Warren County 
line, was cut off and converted into the county of Gran- 
ville, which remained intact until 1764 when a portion 
of it was formed into Bute County, and later in 1779 Bute 
ceased to be a county and Warren and Franklin were 
formed from its territory. 

Soon after the formation of Edgecombe County, the 
territory embraced in it was divided into two parishes 
for the convenience of the Episcopal clergy and the ad- 
ministration of the affairs of the established church. The 
parish of St. Mary included all that portion of the county 
south of Fishing Creek and Kehukee swamp. North of 
Fishing Creek to the Virginia line and west to the Gran- 
ville County line was called Edgecombe Parish. Upon the 
formation of Halifax County a few years later, as will be 
seen, the parish of Edgecombe became the county of Hali- 



All of the early settlers of the northern portion of 
North Carolina came from or through Virginia. The 
reason for this is obvious. The coast of North Carolina 
being destitute of good harbors and known to be dan- 
gerous to shipping, all immigrants for the colony of Al- 
bemarle landed in Virginia and came to their destina- 
tion by an overland route. It is also well known that 
many of the residents of the Old Dominion came to the 
southern colony as soon as the way was opened. At first 
the settlers clung to the shores of the sounds, the route 
being across the Albemarle sound to Mackey's Ferry 
about ten miles east of Plymouth, thence to Bath and 
across the Pamlico to Newbern and on to Wilmington. 

At first all the territory in the colony of North Caro- 
lina was divided into two counties, Albemarle and 
Clarendon, the former being all the country around the 
Albemarle and Pamlico sounds and along the rivers flow- 
ing into them, and the latter the country on the Cape 
Fear river. 

About 1670, Albemarle was divided into the precincts 
of Carteret, Berkley, and Shaftsbury, named in honor 
of three of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. Fifteen 
years later, during the administration of Governor Seth 
Sothel, these three were abolished, and the territory di- 
vided into four precincts and given the names of Curri- 
tuck, Chowan, Pasquotank, and Perquimans. When 
Bertie precinct was organized in 1722, the tide of immi- 
gration had flown westward across the Chowan river 
and was finding places of settlement along the banks of 
the Roanoke and on both the south and north sides of 
Fishing Creek. 


The first grants mentioned were in 1720, although 
one is referred to as early as 1714. These grants and 
deeds based thereon were located on the "south side of 
Morotuck river," which seemed to be the favorite locali- 
ties for settlements, until some ten or fifteen years later 
when some grants were located on Fishing Creek, show- 
ing the gradual movement of population southward. 

According to the records in the oflice of the Register 
of Deeds at Halifax, the first grants of land in the pres- 
ent limits of the county were on Roanoke river and near 
the mouths of Kehukee and Quanky creeks. The earliest 
that are on record were to William Jones on April 5, 
1720, which lapsed and was regranted to William Pope, 
April 1, 1723. Quite close to that one in point of time 
was one to Philip Rayford, August 13, 1720, and to 
George Smith about the same time. The grant to William 
Pope is described as being "on the south side of Moro- 
tuck river and on Tuckahoe marsh ;" those to Philip Ray- 
ford and George Smith on Conoconara Swamp, 

There were many other grants located on Conoconara 
Swamp, Quanky Creek, Elk Marsh, Fishing Creek, In- 
dian Creek, and Looking Glass Creek between 1720 and 
1730 by Robert Long, Cornelius Pierce, Thomas Smith, 
John and Jacob Pope, Michael Aaron, and others. About 
ten years later grants by Edward Jones, Robert Hill, 
Joseph Hale, Henry Dawson, John Dawson, John Cotton, 
Joseph J. Alston, Marmaduke Norfleet, and others were 
located in the same section. 

Other grants were about the same time, or a little la- 
ter, made to the following, whose names are given be- 
cause of the interest that may attach to some of them on 
account of the fact that their descendants are still living 
in the county: James Allen, Thomas Bradford, Thomas 
Bryant, James Bradley, Aaron Drake, William Drake, 
John Edwards, Charles Evans, John Green, Davie Hop- 
per, James Hale, James Joyner, Thomas Jenkins, Na- 
than Joyner, Benjamin Johnson. James Moore, Thomas 
Matthews, Ephraim Owen, Edward Powers, John Rog- 


ers, Edward Simmons, John Sojourner, James Saunders, 
Thomas Turner, James_Thompson, Robert Wood, Wil- 
liam Whitehead, Robert Warren, and others. 

In 1722, a colony of Scotch Highlanders came across the 
Roanoke from Virginia and settled in a great bend in 
the river, and gave their settlement the name of Scotland 
Neck. The exact locality is not known, but it was some- 
where in that large belt of fertile lands between the 
Caledonia farms and Palmyra. It is also unknown as 
to how many families were in this colony ; but they were 
an industrious set of people, had built comfortable 
homes, and had raised several good crops of corn, to- 
bacco, and wheat, when a tremendous freshet in the riv- 
er swept away everything they had accumulated. Be- 
coming discouraged, they abandoned the settlement and 
went to the Cape Fear country. 

From 1732 to 1741, the period of contest over the 
validity of the establishment of Edgecombe precinct, 
there was probably no county seat, the county courts be- 
ing held in private homes. There is a deed on record 
proved at a court held for Edgecombe precinct at the 
home of Robert Long on Elk Marsh, August 15, 1732. 

It is reasonably clear that as early as 1732, people 
were living in all parts of what is now Halifax County. 
Immense grants of land had been located on Roanoke 
River north of Kehukee Creek as far north as the point 
where the old town of Gaston was situated. South and 
west of the Roanoke the tide of immigration had gone 
as far as the present town of Enfield and the neighbor- 
hood of Aurelian Springs. The early settlers were es- 
sentially an agricultural class and were looking for 
farming and grazing lands. They found them on the 
Roanoke near Looking Glass Run, Quanky Creek, Cono- 
conara Swamp, Marsh Swamp, Chockayotte and Deep 
Creeks. Large farms were soon cleared in those sections 
and elegant country homes for those early times built. 

Enfield, which at the time was known as Huckleberry 
Swamp, was selected about 1745 as the county seat of 


Edgecombe County. By act of 1741, confirming the 
establishment of Edgecombe precinct in 1732, which had 
been changed from precinct to county in 1738, the Com- 
missioners were empowered to levy a poll tax, not to ex- 
ceed five shillings, for the purpose of erecting a court 
house. This was acted upon at an early date, and the 
building located at Huckleberry Swamp, which took the 
name of Enfield, probably in honor of old Enfield in 
England. This is the first mention of a town in the coun- 
ty. Enfield is, therefore, the oldest town in the present 
limits of Halifax County. 

Soon after that event, by act of 1746, the judicial dis- 
trict of Edgecombe, Northampton, and Granville was 
formed, and Enfield was made the place of meeting of 
the new court. This distinction for Enfield of being the 
seat of the judicial district continued until about 1758. 
The writs and subpoenas were all issued from Newbern, 
at the time the capital of North Carolina, but the courts 
were held at Enfield. 

In 1742, a settlement was made on Kehukee Creek 
which is of considerable note. This was a party of im- 
migrants from Berkley, Va., led by William Sojourner. 
After establishing themselves in their new homes, they 
built Kehukee Baptist church, probably the oldest 
church of that denomination in eastern North Carolina. 
Some years later several Methodist churches were estab- 
lished on Fishing Creek. Episcopal churches had been 
built some years before in several sections of Edgecombe 
County. It is well authenticated that religion and sobri- 
ety characterized the early inhabitants of this section of 
North Carolina. 

An attendant upon a yearly meeting of one of the 
churches on Fishing Creek in 1755 has the following to 
say about the inhabitants of Edgecombe County: "The 
inhabitants were principally from Virginia and some 
from Pennsylvania and Jersey. They are thrifty and 
intelligent." He further says that the prevalent popu- 
lation of the territory was English, the only settlement 


of another nationality being the one at Scotland Neck, 
which failed. 

The chief agricultural products of the times were rice, 
Indian corn, cotton in limited quantities, indigo, and to- 
bacco. Naval stores, lumber, staves, pork, beef, hides, 
deerskins, furs, beeswax, and honey also formed a large 
part of the material wealth of the people. Tobacco, 
staves, and lumber were exported in considerable quan- 
tities as early as 1746. 



As the population increased, it soon became apparent 
that the sections north and south of Fishing Creek in 
Edgecombe County were rivals of each other. It is prob- 
able that the northern part of the county, that is, what 
is now included in Halifax, was the more populous, be- 
cause it was the first settled. From a report given to 
the British Board of Trade, the population of Edgecombe 
County in 1758 was: whites, over 16, 1674: blacks, over 
12, 1091, making a total of 2765. Allowing for children 
below the ages given in the enumeration, the total popu- 
lation of Edgecombe County in 1758 was about 5000. As 
Edgecombe Parish, or the section north of Fishing 
Creek, was the more populous, it is probable that Hali- 
fax County as organized in that year had nearly 3000 
people living in its borders. 

In the latter part of the year 1757, Governor Arthur 
Dobbs and his council, sitting at Newbern, heard the pe- 
tition of the residents of the parish of Edgecombe for 
the formation of a new county to be composed of all the 
territory of Edgecombe County north of Fishing Creek 
and Rainbow Banks on the Roanoke river. Early in the 
next year, the petition was granted and confirmed by the 
Colonial Assembly. A committee from the petitioners 
and the Assembly called upon Governor Dobbs and asked 
him to suggest a name for the new county and the place 
for the county seat. The governor immediately offered 
the name of Halifax, in honor of Charles Montague, Earl 
of Halifax, who was at that time President of the British 
Board of Trade, which had control of the commercial and 
economic affairs of the colonies, and Enfield was desig- 
nated as the county seat. The name suggested was read- 


ily accepted, but the acceptance of Enfield as the capital 
was delayed because it was thought that the location of 
the county town should be more thoroughly considered. 
Later, Enfield was rejected because it was too far from 
the center of the new county, and the village of Halifax 
was chosen instead. Thus the county of Halifax came 
into existence without much formality, the parish of 
Edgecombe becoming Halifax and the parish of St. 
Mary's Edgecombe. 

Halifax, which had thus drawn the prize of having 
been selected as the county seat, was an insignificant 
village. It is well authenticated that there were several 
families living on Quanky Creek near where it empties 
into the Roanoke as early as 1741. It was not until 1757, 
however, that this thrifty collection of homes on the 
Roanoke began to be thought of as a town. In that year, 
by act of the Colonial Assembly, one hundred acres of 
land were purchased from James Leslie at the price of 
one hundred and fifty pounds and vested in a board of 
trustees to sell to expected residents in town lots, the 
proceeds of the sale to go toward paying Leslie for the 
land, to build a bridge over Quanky Creek, and the sur- 
plus to go for town improvements. Four acres were to 
be reserved for municipal buildings. The town became 
of some importance in 1758, and when it was selected as 
the county seat, it immediately assumed a degree of 
thrift, that it maintained for a long number of years. 

Enfield having lost out in the contest for the county 
seat of Halifax, and losing also, on account of geographi- 
cal reasons, the court house of Edgecombe, was destined 
further to lose the distinction of being the seat of the 
district court of Edgecombe, Northampton, and Gran- 
ville. As soon as the county of Halifax was organized, 
the following year the district court was abolished, and 
the court house was purchased from Edgecombe County 
and moved to Halifax, or such portions of the building 
as could be used in putting up the new structure. 

The county, as established, embraced at first not only 


Roanoke. It was a splendid domain fo? the making nf « 

Srti^;^^;t::r*-«- -"- '°- - ' "-- 

Thus established, Halifax enterpH iha fow,,-i ^^ 

officers was installed. ^ ^ ^* 

ivJn I'i^ C^^o"Jal Assembly, which met in Newbern in 

The'se ^n at'^n.rf' It-T"^'"' ^^"* StlpVe'n "d w:y: 

county in the-iegl^a^tive^h^ „*?lhf ttinS'tW hav! 
a distinction that others did not attain ' ^ ''^^ 

Alexander McCulloch came to this 'county from Scot 
^nd and located a few miles westward of the t^w„ of 

Bet rcou^ra'nd"' '"' "^"^"'^^ "' benjamin*™ ol 
s/n^e'd the""c':unry''srral ^ime? tthrS>r ■'IV'""'- 
bly and was afteLards for™eve ^years a mLC' of 
:^^Tfh— ha^-of^^^^^^^^^ 

r r ^ti^\:- rofihtirif :/ sx r£ 

have rendered the name honorable ''^^^"^^«^hs that 

Blake Baker, the other represenative of the countv in 

whotT'^^^"^ ^^ l^^^' ^^« ^he father of Blake Baker 

Tud^e nf &?w''*^^?^-^^^ '' the State and a 
.luage. He himself was a lawyer and served on the judi- 


ciary committee of the Assembly. It is interesting to 
know that the family of Bakers that came to Halifax 
County from Virginia were distinguished for several 
generations, and the heads of the family for four suc- 
cessive generations were named Blake. The first Blake 
Baker came to the county from South Quay, Va. The 
second Blake, son of the first, was trained as a cabinet 
maker, but studied law and became prominent as a rep- 
resentative in the Colonial Assembly from Halifax 
County. Of Blake the third, the attorney-general and 
judge, it is said that he was bred for the law and by 
dint of hard labor, for he was not brilliant, he came to 
be considered one of the ablest lawyers of his day. He 
left a son also named Blake. 

Joseph Montford, the first Clerk of the Court, was dis- 
tinguished as a mason and citizen. A biography of him 
is given in Part II., "Builders of the County." 

Stephen Dewey, the representative from the town of 
Halifax, was a lawyer and a man of considerable ability. 
He was a man of strong character. When he was elect- 
ed, the town had just been made a borough and there 
was some delay in its official recognition. Governor 
Dobbs had failed to issue a writ for an election. The 
election, however, was held and Dewey elected. As soon 
as the question was raised as to the legality of the elec- 
tion, Dewey promptly declined the office. The governor 
was then appealed to for the necessary writ and another 
election held, and Dewey was again elected. He served 
two terms. 


In 1759, an incident occurred in Halifax County, which 
showed the resentment of the people of this section of 
North Carolina toward a system which was in operation 
at the time in the province. The spirit shown in that 
incident was the same as that which was exhibited some 
fifteen years later when North Carolina in convention at 
Halifax declared for the absolute independence of the 

For many years previous to the formation of Halifax 
County, there had been much dissatisfaction in North 
Carolina on account of the exactions of the quit-rent col- 
lectors. The lands were not held in fee simple by the 
owners, but in addition to paying the regular price for 
the land they had to pay to the Lords Proprietors and 
later to the king an annual rental per acre. This was 
to be perpetual, for while a man might buy his land and 
get a deed for it, he was under obligation to the British 
Government to pay a yearly tax. There was no chance 
to escape this even though the settlers had paid the price 
asked for the land. The liberty loving North Carolinians 
did not like this system of feudalism, and often showed 
their resentment. 

When the Proprietors sold their claims to the crown 
in 1729, Lord Granville reserved his right and refused 
to sell. His share, one-eighth of the whole, was allotted 
to him wholly in North Carolina. His line ran through 
the old town of Bath and the present town of Snow Hill 
and westward to the Mississippi river, taking in a large 
slice of the northern part of the province. Halifax 
County fell to the share of Lord Granville. 


In the territory belonging to the king, the quit-rents 
were paid into the treasury of the province and helped 
to pay the expenses of the government. In Granville's 
district, however, the sums collected went into the cof- 
fers of his lordship, and hence were an additional cause 
for restiveness. 

Francis Corbin and Thomas Bodley were the agents of 
Lord Granville for the collection of his rents, and had 
made themselves odious by extortions and other evil 
practices. Charges against them were being investigat- 
ed by a committee of the Colonial Assembly, but the 
committee was slow in their deliberations and the As- 
sembly adjourned without action. Irritated by this 
seeming indifference, the people in the district concern- 
ed became aroused and threatened to take action them- 
selves upon the guilty agents. Matters hastened to a 
crisis in Halifax and Edgecombe counties. 

In January, 1759, the feeling against Corbin and Bod- 
ley became violently demonstrative ; and on January 24 a 
body of well mounted horsemen from Halifax and Edge- 
combe rode all the way to Edenton, the home of Corbin 
and Bodley, and seized the two agents in the night time 
and conveyed them to Enfield, where they were com- 
pelled to give bond for their appearance at the spring 
term of court. Having given bond and promising to dis- 
gorge all illegal fees and taxes collected, they were re- 

Shortly afterward, Corbin and Bodley instituted 
suit against their abductors, and a number of them were 
put in jail at Enfield. Friends and sympathizers of 
the imprisoned men went to the jail one night and re- 
leased them. Not content with emptying the jail, the 
rioters warned the agents that they had better drop the 
suits or worse results would follow. Accordingly the 
suits were dropped and Corbin and Bodley paid the cost. 

Some months later, Corbin, who had been a member of 
the council, was dismissed by Governor Dobbs and re- 
moved from the agency by Lord Granville. This in a 


measure quieted the restlessness in the colony, and es- 
pecially in Halifax. 

A singular circumstance is that the Colonial Assem- 
bly was severe upon the rioters, while the governor was 
more favorable to them. Governor Dobbs intimated in 
some of his correspondence that his opponents in the 
Assembly found it to their interests to make up with 
Corbin, against whom the greatest charge was laid, and 
change sides, and there may have been some truth in 
what he said. Dobbs was a hot-headed Irishman who 
was in continual warfare with the Assembly throughout 
his administration, and the solution of the reason that 
the Assembly took sides against the rioters is that 
Dobbs was for them. 

Colonel Saunders, in the Prefatory Notes to the Col- 
onial Records, considers these rioters as the forerunners 
of the Regulators, who rose against the royal govern- 
ment of the province a few years later. 



For some years after the formation of the county, 
there is little to record except the mention of the rota- 
tion of the county officers and members of the Colonial 
Assembly. Joseph Montford continued to serve as clerk 
of the court until his death in 1776. He was also a rep- 
resentative in the Assembly for several terms, thus 
serving in a double capacity for a few years. 

Until the adoption of the Constitution in 1776, the 
Colonial Assembly consisted of an upper house known 
as his Majesty's Council, composed of the Governor and 
a number of men appointed by the king, and the lower 
house made up of delegates elected by the people. The 
history of the different assemblies was one of continued 
strife between the governor and the lower house. To 
the lower house, Halifax County, as well as other coun- 
ties of the State, sent its representatives. The follow- 
ing is a list of the representatives sent by the county and 
the town of Halifax for the sixteen years before the 
Declaration of Independence in 1776: 

For the Borough of Halifax. 

Stephen Dewey 1760-61 

Alexander Elmsley 1762-63 

Abner Nash 1764-65 

Joseph Montford 1766-75 

For the County. 

Blake Baker and Alexander McCulloch 1760-6T 

Blake Baker and Joseph Montford 1762-65 

John Bradford and William Branch 1766-68 

Blake Baker and Alexander McCulloch 1760-61 

Abner Nash and William Alston 1770-71 

Benjamin McCulloch and John Alston 1772-74 

Nicholas Long and Benjamin McCulloch 1775 



Abner Nash, who represented the town and county at 
different times, afterwards became governor of the 
State. Halifax is not generally credited with having 
been the home of this Revolutionary governor, but it is 
quite clear that he lived in the town of Halifax for about 
twelve years before removing to Jones County. He own- 
ed a farm on Roanoke river and considerable real es- 
tate elsewhere in the county. While living in Halifax, 
he married the widow of the late Governor Dobbs, who 
was before her marriage with the governor, Miss Justina 
Davis. She died in 1771, before Governor Nash left the 
county, and is buried in the old churchyard at Halifax. 
Nash became Governor in 1780, but declined to serve 
longer than one year. 

William Tryon was sent from England in October, 
1764, to act as deputy governor with Governor Dobbs. 
Tryon was a dashing soldier and soon became popular 
with the people of the province. Governor Dobbs died 
in April, 1765, and Tryon succeeded to the governorship. 
Almost immediately upon his accession. Governor Tryon 
found himself in the midst of a nation-wide excitement 
about the passage of the Stamp Act. Wilmington, Eden- 
ton, and Newbern had their periods of excitement and 
clashes with the king's officers over the sale of the 
stamps. There were riots and disturbances in various 
parts of the province. Halifax County, being far re- 
moved from the ports where the stamps were to be land- 
ed for sale, was intensely interested, but made no par- 
ticular demonstration. Governor Tryon found out the 
temper of North Carolina people when he asked John 
Ashe whether the people would continue their resistance 
to the Stamp Act duty and received as reply that 'Tt 
will be resisted to blood and death." He, therefore, ad- 
vised the repeal of the act, and it was done the next 

In 1768, the movement of the Regulators in Orange 
County produced considerable excitement and some sym- 
pathy in Halifax. To show a kindred feeling with the 


Regulators, in their struggle against extortions and ille- 
gal taxes, the inhabitants of Halifax County petitioned 
the Governor and the Colonial Assembly that year to 
lighten the burdens under which they were living and to 
pass laws regulating the payment of fees for the is- 
suance of all legal papers, the collection of quit-rents, 
and the payment of taxes. The petition was presented 
by William Branch, one of the representatives for that 
year, and shows some of the hardships that the people of 
that time endured. No action, however, was taken upon 
the petition. 

When Governor Tryon called upon the counties of 
the Province, in 1771, to furnish troops to march against 
the Regulators, Halifax County refused to furnish any 
men to fight their comrades and friends in Orange and 
Alamance. It is to the credit of the county that it sent 
no soldiers to aid the royal governor in his merciless 
warfare upon the inhabitants of that section of North 
Carolina. With his sympathizers from other counties, 
he marched against the Regulators and defeated them 
at the Battle of Alamance. 

At a meeting of freeholders in the town of Halifax, 
August 22, 1774, John Webb was chosen moderator, and 
the following set of resolutions was unanimously adopt- 

1. We declare our loyalty to King George III. 

2. That the proposed alteration in the administration 
of the criminal law in certain cases in Massachu- 
setts would be unconstitutional and oppressive, and 
deprive the accused of the privilege of being tried 
by a jury of his peers, and their indigent circum- 
stances would prevent them from having their wit- 
nesses transported to England. 

3. That the Boston Port Bill was an illegal exercise of 
arbitrary power and an encroachment upon private 

4. That the bill for changing the constitution of 
Massachusetts, now founded on charter, would be 


injurious to the liberties of that province and of 
America in general. 

5. That the Americans can only be legally taxed by 
those who represent them, and that it would be im- 
practicable to send representatives across the sea. 

6. That principles of honor, justice, and gratitude, as 
well as interest, should direct them on that occasion. 

7. That all luxury and extravagance should be dis- 
couraged in order that debts in England might be 
discharged; and that sheep husbandry and manu- 
facture of wool be encouraged, and that every per- 
son should apply himself with assiduity to his occu- 
pation in life. 

8. That exports to England be continued until all 
debts were paid. 

9. That the trade with the British West Indies be 

10. That after the twentieth day of September next we 
import no article, directly or indirectly, from Great 
Britain, nor purchase from those who do import, 
until the duty on tea be taken off, except certain 
articles absolutely necessary. 

11. That the East India Company has insulted Ameri- 
cans in sending over tea contrary to the wishes of 
the Americans; and that we will use no more tea 
until the tax is taken off. 

12. That unanimity and concord should be encouraged. 

13. That, as Joseph Montford on account of indisposi- 
tion cannot attend the meeting of the Assembly at 
Newbern, John Geddy be appointed in his place. 

14. That the courts of law continue to exercise their 

15. That a copy of these resolves be inserted in the 
Newbern Gazette. 

From the tone of these resolutions it will be seen that 
the spirit of opposition to Great Britain was becoming 
defiant. Notwithstanding the fact that they disclaim 
any intention of being disloyal to the British Govern- 
ment, they boldly assert that certain acts of the British 
ministry were arbitrary and tyrannical and that a peo- 

<\i i ■ 


pie can be legally taxed only by a body in which they are 
represented. It is noteworthy that all extravagance and 
luxury was discouraged in order that debts in England 
might be paid. These sturdy yoemen of Halifax saw 
that a separation from England was coming, but they 
wanted, when it did come, to be free of debt to their 
enemy. Here was a tea party also when they declared 
solemnly that they would use no more tea nor import any 
article from Great Britain until the tea tax had been re- 

This determined spirit of the people of Halifax was 
seen in all parts of the province, and when the first Pro- 
vincial Congress met in Newbern on the 25th of August, 
1774, there was strong evidence that North Carolina was 
taking a long stride toward independence. In that Con- 
gress, Halifax County was represented by Nicholas Long 
and Willie (Wiley) Jones, and the town of Halifax by 
John Geddy. The Congress took wise precaution to 
guard the safety of the province by the appointment of 
committees of safety for the various counties. The com- 
mittee for Halifax was as follows : Willie Jones, Nicholas 
Long, John Bradford, James Hogan, Benjamin McCul- 
loch, Joseph John Williams, William Alston, Egbert Hay- 
wood, David Sumner, Samuel Weldon, and Thomas 



December 21, 1774, the Committee of Safety met in 
Halifax and elected Willie Jones chairman, and trans- 
acted some business of special note. While in session, it 
was reported to the committee that Andrew Miller, a 
merchant in the town of Halifax, had refused to sign the 
resolutions that were passed by the freeholders, known 
as the Resolutions of the Association. A sub-committee 
was appointed to summon him before the full committee. 
Miller came and gave as his reason for not signing the 
resolutions that he had in his hands certain goods be- 
longing to persons in England and that he could not ship 
these goods to England before the time given for the 
resolutions to go into effect. He stated that he did not 
think it just to sign as his creditors in England had no 
means to influence the repeal of the objectionable laws. 

His explanation was not satisfactory to the Committee, 
and by vote it was decided that a general boycott be 
instituted against Miller and whatever partner or part- 
ners he might have. This was perhaps the first instance 
of the kind in the State. Governor Martin refers to these 
resolutions of boycott against Miller in a letter to Lord 
Dartmouth. It is evident that these Halifax patriots 
were determined that their resentment to the mother 
country for the unjust treatment of the American col- 
onies should be forcible and unanimous. 

A few words of explanation of the conduct of Andrew 
Miller in thus defying his fellow citizens may be neces- 
sary. He was a Scotchman by birth and a man of much 
ability and good standing in his community. Several 
of his letters are given in full in the Colonial Records, 
in one of which he speaks of expecting Governor Mar- 


tin to spend ten days with him. The county records 
show that he was one of the executors of the will of 
James Milner, a prominent attorney of Halifax. As will 
be supposed, Miller became a Tory and soon afterwards 
fled from Halifax. His property was confiscated in 1779, 
and he was a refugee at Charleston at the close of the 
war. It is not known where he went from there when 
that city fell into the hands of the American army under 
General Greene at the close of the Revolution. 

James Milner, mentioned in connection with the Tory, 
Andrew Miller, was a leading lawyer of the Halifax bar 
during the period just before the outbreak of the war. 
He practiced in the courts of the province even as far 
away as Hillsboro. He died before the beginning of the 
Revolution, and the records show that he left consider- 
able property. Several of his letters appear in the Co- 
lonial Records. 

When the second Provincial Congress met in Newbem, 
April 3, 1775, Halifax County was represented by Willie 
Jones, Benjamin McCulloch, and Nicholas Long, and the 
town of Halifax by Joseph Montford and John Webb. 
Little was done at this session and an adjournment was 
taken to Hillsboro in August the same year. 

At this session, which met August 21, Halifax County 
was represented by Nicholas Long, James Hogan, David 
Sumner, John Webb, and John Geddy. The town of 
Halifax was represented by Willie Jones and Francis 
Nash, who was living at the time in Hillsboro. One of 
the important things done by this Congress was the di- 
vision of the Province into five military districts and 
the appointment of a colonel for each district. The Revo- 
lution had actually begun ; the Battle of Lexington had 
been fought; the Mecklenburg Declaration of Indepen- 
dence had been signed; Washington had begun the siege 
of Boston; excitement was rife throughout North 

The Congress also authorized the enrollment of five 
hundred minute men in each district. Nicholas Long 


was chosen colonel of the Halifax department, which was 
composed of the counties of Halifax, Edgecombe, North- 
ampton, and Granville. Henry Irwin was chosen lieuten- 
ant-colonel and Jethro Sumner, major. For the county 
of Halifax, the following were chosen officers of the 
minute men that were to be raised: John Bradford. 
Colonel; William Alston, Lieutenant-Colonel; David 
Sumner, First Major; Egbert Haywood, Second Major. 
Congress allotted to the county the enrollment of three 
companies of the militia that had been authorized. 

The Hillsboro Congress took a step toward State sove- 
reignty by the organization of a provincial government 
called the Provincial Council, which was to exercise the 
executive functions that had been wielded by the royal 
governor, who was now a refugee on a British gunboat at 
the mouth of the Cape Fear river. Cornelius Harnett, 
of Wilmington, was the chairman of this council and was 
thus the chief executive officer of the province. Halifax 
County was honored in having as a member of this Pro- 
vincial Council Willie Jones, who was among the first 
elected by the Congress. To act on the Committee of 
Safety of Halifax district, James Leslie, John Bradford, 
David Sumner, and John Webb were appointed from 
the county. 

During these troublesome times, Halifax County was 
specially free from anything like dominating Tory in- 
fluence. Only a few loyalists were found in the county, 
and these were kept under such surveillance that they 
exerted very little assistance to those who were trying 
to uphold the power of the king in North Carolina. 
Andrew Miller, as has been related, was a Tory, and 
John Hamilton, another merchant of Halifax, who, after 
his flight from Halifax in 1776, rose to high rank in the 
British army. Besides these two, there were a few 
others, who were obnoxious. All of them were watched 
by the patriots and arrested and brought before the Com- 
mittee of Safety for punishment, if they made any move 
in behalf of the king. 


At a session of the Provincial Council, held at Smith- 
field, December 18, 1775, John Branch, sheriff of Halifax 
County, brought before that body Walter Lamb and 
George Massenbird, charged with certain crimes, arid 
prayed punishment upon them as Tories. Lamb was 
remanded for trial at the next meeting of the Committee 
of Safety of Halifax County; but Massenbird seems to 
have experienced a change of heart and became penitent, 
under pressure, took the oath of allegiance to the Pro- 
vincial Council, and was released. It is not known why 
they were taken to Smithfield, but the presumption is 
that they had taken an appeal from the decision of the 
Halifax Committee. 



For Halifax County, North Carolina, and all America, 
the year 1776 was momentous. The preceding year had 
come to a close with the Revolution just commencing. 
In the beginning, the resistance to British authority was 
only rebellion. Except the Mecklenburg Declaration of 
May 20, 1775, there had been no intimation anywhere in 
America of a desire to separate from the mother country. 
All the colonies declared, in effect, that they were fight- 
ing for their rights as Englishmen and not to establish 
an independent nation. So firmly fixed in the minds of 
the people was the idea of loyalty to the British crown 
that, when the Mecklenburg Declaration was passed and 
Captain Jack despatched with a copy to the Congress at 
Philadelphia, he was coldly received even by the North 
Carolina delegation and the copy of the Declaration 
pigeon-holed indefinitely. 

As time, however, passed and the struggle with Great 
Britain became more and more desperate, a change took 
place in the feelings of Americans toward England. Be- 
fore even a year had passed, people all over the colonies 
began to think that the war, which had begun as a rebel- 
lion was fast becoming a revolution. In no colony was 
the growing spirit of independence more pronounced 
than in North Carolina, and in no county was it more 
alive than in Halifax. 

Ominously did the year 1776 open in North Carolina. 
Everybody felt that the war now under way was to be 
long and fierce. Early in January, the British Com- 
mander-in-Chief, whose headquarters were in Boston, 
sent his agents to various points in North Carolina to 
arouse the Tories and organize them for service against 


the patriots. In the central and western part of the 
province, there was a bitter struggle for several months 
between the two factions; but the Tories were finally 
defeated and forced to submit or flee the country. 

In Cumberland County, where the Highland Scotch had 
settled, more than two thousand Tories assembled at 
Cross Creek and began their march upon Wilmington 
to meet a British army of invasion that was to make a 
landing on the Cape Fear. Before reaching Wilming- 
ton, however, they were totally defeated by the patriots, 
on February 27, and dispersed. The leaders of the Tories 
in this Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, Colonels Donald 
and Allan McDonald, the latter being the husband of the 
famous Flora McDonald, were captured and brought to 
Halifax and confined in the jail there. Colonel Nicholas 
Long, in command of the militia of Halifax district, ap- 
prehended other Tories that were trying to escape cap- 
ture after the battle and were passing through Halifax 
and confined them in jail. The names of forty-six of 
these refugee Tories are given in the reports of these 
captures besides others whose names are not given. They 
were detained in jail in Halifax until paroled some months 

After the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, sentiment 
in North Carolina for independence rapidly crystallized. 
Although a British army of invasion and twenty- 
seven enemy gunboats were on the Cape Fear, the peo- 
ple of the province set their faces steadfastly toward a 
separation from England, In Halifax County, the spirit 
of revolution was unchecked. 

So when the Provincial Congress met in Halifax 
April 4, 1776, it found a sympathetic people to give en- 
couragement to its deliberations. Samuel Johnston, of 
Edenton, was elected president and James Green, Jr., 
secretary. Halifax County was represented by John 
Bradford, James Hogan, David Sumner, Joseph John 
Williams, and Willis Alston. Willie Jones was elected 
to represent the town of Halifax, but, having been ap- 


pointed by the Continental Congress superintendent of 
Indian affairs for the southern department and being 
absent on account of the duties of that office, John Webb 
was chosen in his stead. 

After matters of a minor nature were disposed of by 
the Congress, the discussion of national affairs was en- 
tered upon. The sentiment for independence was well 
nigh unanimous, and it was enthusiastically decided that 
the Congress should go on record in some expression re- 
garding it. Accordingly, a committee was appointed to 
draft suitable resolutions. This committee, consisting of 
Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Burke, Allen Jones, Thomas 
Jones, Abner Nash, 'Diomas Person, and M. Kinchin, 
made their report on April 12. Cornelius Harnett was 
the chairman of the committee and made the report as 
follows : 

"It appears to your committee that, pursuant to the 
plan concerted by the British ministry for subjugating 
America, the king and parliament of Great Britain have 
usurped a power over the persons and properties of the 
people, unlimited and uncontrolled, and, disregarding 
their humble petitions for peace, liberty, and safety, 
have made divers legislative acts denouncing war, fam- 
ine, and every species of calamity against the continent 
in general. The British have been, and still are, daily 
employed in destroying people and committing the most 
horrid devastations on the country. The governors in 
different colonies have declared protection to slaves, 
who imbrue their hands in the blood of their masters. 
The ships belonging to America are declared prizes of 
war, and many of them have been violently seized and 
confiscated. In consequence of all which, multitudes of 
people have been destroyed, or from easy circumstances 
reduced to the most lamentable distress. 

"And whereas, the moderation hitherto manifested by 
the United Colonies, and their sincere desire to be recon- 
ciled to the mother country on constitutional principles 
have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid wrongs and 



U' ' 



usurpations, and no hope remains of obtaining redress 
by those means alone which have been hitherto tried, 
your committee are of the opinion that the House should 
enter into the following resolve, to wit : 

"Resolved, that the delegates from this colony, in the 
Continental Congress, be empowered to concur with the 
delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independence 
and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this colony 
the sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution 
and laws for this colony, and of appointing delegates 
from time to time (under the direction of a general rep- 
resentation thereof) to meet the delegates of the other 
colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed 

This resolution, the first of the kind in all America, was 
adopted unanimously on the twelfth of April, antedat- 
ing the Virginia resolves of the same nature a little more 
than a month. As is well known, the Continental Con- 
gress acted upon this resolution of North Carolina, which 
was well seconded by Virginia by a like resolve on May 
15, and a national Declaration of Independence was 
passed July 4, 1776. 

April 14, the Congress appointed a committee, of 
which John Bradford was a member, to prepare a tem- 
porary civil constitution for the purpose of changing 
from a provincial to a State government. The word 
"temporary" was used in the naming of the commit- 
tee probably for the reason that the decisive step for in- 
dependence had not yet been made. It is not known how 
far the committee proceeded in their deliberations, but 
no constitution was adopted at this session. 

Two men were appointed, by resolution, from each 
county, whose duty should be to receive, purchase, and 
procure firearms for the use of the troops. Egbert Hay- 
wood and David Crawley were appointed from Halifax 
County. The militia of the province was reorganized 
with brigadier-generals in command of the districts. 
Allen Jones, who lived at Mount Gallant in Northamp- 


ton County, was appointed to command the troops of 
Halifax district. The following field officers for Halifax 
County were appointed: Willis Alston, Colonel; David 
Sumner, Lieutenant-Colonel; James Hogan, First Ma- 
jor; Samuel Weldon, Second Major. 

Before adjournment, the Congress provided for the 
erection in the county of a powder mill, and appointed 
Willie Jones, Benjamin McCulloch, and Josiah Sumner to 
have control of it. 

At this Congress, one of the most important ever held 
in the province, a great deal of business was transacted, 
that relating to Halifax County, owing to its peculiar in- 
terest, is given in full, — 

It was resolved that a declaration be published that the 
Congress was compelled to remove the prisoners, cap- 
tured in the late campaign, into other provinces on ac- 
count of the public safety. This action relieved the 
pressure in the Halifax jail, where there had been incar- 
cerated a large number of Scotch Tories. 

A committee was appointed to look into the matter of 
the seizure at Newbern of a vessel belonging to John 
Hamilton, a Tory merchant of Halifax. 

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn were 
appointed delegates to the general Congress to be held in 

John Webb was added to the committee for the coun- 
ty for procuring arms. Colonel Nicholas Long was di- 
rected to collect all the arms that may have been taken 
from Tories and hold them ready to supply recruits for 
the minute men. 

Colonel Long was requested to proceed to the Virginia 
line, with a detachment of troops, and escort General 
Charles Lee, an oflficer of the Continental army, to Hali- 
fax. He was passing through to inspect the troops in 
this State and in South Carolina and Georgia. 

It was ordered that 1500 minute men be enrolled in 
the districts of Edenton, Newbern, Halifax, and Wil- 
mington, and proceed to Wilmington for the defense of 


the State. Halifax district was to furnish seven com- 
panies; from Halifax 100 men, Edgecomb 100, Bute 
100, and Northampton 75. 

All the militia of the colony was divided into six bri- 
gades, one brigade in each district, to be commanded 
by a brigadier-general. All males between the ages of 
16 and 60 were declared subject to military duty. Each 
county was to be organized into a regiment, which was 
to be subdivided into companies of not less than fifty 

Bills of credit were issued to the value of $1,000,000 
for the purpose of defraying all expenses of armaments, 
bounties, and other contingencies that should occur dur- 
ing the recess of Congress. It was resolved that "Any 
person or persons, who should attempt to depreciate 
said bills of credit by refusing to take the same in pay- 
ment of any debt or contract, or by speaking or writing 
with the intention to lessen their credit and currency, 
shall be considered as inimical to America." 

The Provincial Council and the Committees of Safety 
were dissolved, and, in their stead, was substituted a 
Council of Safety to consist of one man to represent the 
Congress and two from each of the six districts, which 
should serve until the next meeting of the Congress. 
Willie Jones was chosen to represent the Congress and 
Thomas Eaton and Joseph John Williams to represent 
Halifax district. 

After a session of a month and ten days, the Congress 
adjourned on May 14 to meet again in Halifax Novem- 
ber 10, 1776, unless sooner called together by the Coun- 
cil of Safety. 



During the incipient stages of the Revolution, the 
town of Halifax was the scene of many stirring events. 
After the adjournment of the Provincial Congress, the 
Provincial Council of Safety, of which Willie Jones was 
a distinguished member, was in session in Halifax for 
more than a month during the summer of 1776. While 
in session on July 22, news of the passage of the Declara- 
tion of Independence at Philadelphia was received. The 
Council immediately passed the following resolution: 

"Resolved, that the committees of the respective 
counties and towns in this State, on receiving the 
Declaration of Independence, do cause the same to be 
proclaimed in the most public manner, in order that the 
good people of this colony may be fully informed there- 

While in session, July 25, the Council proceeded to 
change the test oath so as to make it conform to the 
character of the State as free and independent. By 
resolution, the preamble to the oath was made to say 
that the "Colonies are now free and independent states, 
and all allegiance to the British Crown is now forever 
at an end." On the 27th of the same month, the Coun- 
cil set apart by resolution, in conjunction with the Com- 
mittee of Safety of Halifax County, Thursday, August 
1st, as a day for proclaiming the Declaration at the court 
house in Halifax. 

Accordingly, .on that eventful day, a great concourse 
of people from all parts of the county met to witness the 
interesting ceremonies. The Provincial troops, that 
were in Halifax at the time, and the militia compa- 
nies were all drawn up in martial array to give interest 


to the occasion. At midday, Cornelius Harnett ascended 
a rostrum which had been erected in front of the court 
house, and even as he opened the scroll, upon which were 
written the memorable words of the Declaration, the en- 
thusiasm of the immense crowd broke forth in one loud 
swell of rejoicing. Harnett proceeded with his task in 
measured tones and read the immortal document to the 
mute and impassioned multitude with the solemnity of 
an appeal to Heaven. 

When he reached the end and read the names of the 
signers, among whom were William Hooper, Joseph 
Hewes, and John Penn, North Carolina's members of the 
Continental Congress, a spontaneous shout went up from 
hundreds of mouths, and the cannon from the fort at 
Quanky and the Roanoke boomed the glorious tidings 
that the Thirteen Colonies were now free and indepen- 
dent States. Cornelius Harnett was lifted from the ros- 
trum and carried through the streets upon the shoulders 
of the enthusiastic populace. It was a great day in Hali- 

Shortly before this great demonstration in Halifax, 
the following officers of the two companies of Halifax 
County militia had been appointed by the Council of 
Safety : James N. Parsons and Henry Dawson, Captains ; 
P. Cox and William Noblin, Lieutenants ; Caleb Munday 
and John Champion, Ensigns. The total strength of the 
two companies as reported at that time was 105. 

At the same sitting of the Provincial Council of Safe- 
ty at Halifax, the following singular order was made: 
John Webb, of Halifax County, was allowed to export 
18,000 hogsheads of staves to any of the French or Dutch 
cities on giving bond that he would import the proceeds 
in salt, arms, ammunition, and other warlike stores. 

Other matters relating to Halifax County came up 
during the session and were disposed of. An order of 
special note is one appointing a committee to examine 
certain lead mines said to have been discovered on Big 
Fishing Creek. It is not known what was the final re- 


port of this committee, but they made a partial report 
some time later in which they said that lead ore was not 
found in sufficient quantity to justify working. 

It was ordered also that the treasurer of the State 
pay Colonel Willis Alston fifty pounds to employ guards 
for the town of Halifax. John Hamilton, the Tory mer- 
chant, came before the Council and asked an appeal from 
an order of condemnation of his vessel at Newbern 
shortly before that time. This was allowed. It is of in- 
terest to know that Hamilton soon found out that the 
atmosphere of Halifax was not wholesome for Tories, 
and he fled to the British. As he was the most influen- 
tial of the Tories that joined the British army in North 
Carolina, the following sketch is given of him: 

"Before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, there 
lived in Halifax a prosperous and influential man by the 
name of John Hamilton, who came from Scotland, his 
native country, in early life. He engaged in merchan- 
dising in Halifax and acquired a considerable fortune. 
Being well educated, he was naturally a leader, affable 
in manner and popular. 

"When the war of Revolution began, Halifax County, 
as a whole, was enthusiastically patriotic, and joined 
heartily in the movement for independence. It was a 
source of regret to the people of the county that so cap- 
able a man as Hamilton refused to join in this move- 
ment. His friends and neighbors urged and entreated 
him to enlist on the side of the colonies, but he stead- 
fastly claimed allegiance to the king. He continued his 
business, however, in Halifax until toward the close of 
1776, when Governor Caswell issued his proclamation, 
calling upon all residents of the State to take the oath 
of allegiance to North Carolina within sixty days or 
move to other scenes. This proclamation caused a great 
many Tories to leave the State, among whom was Ham- 
ilton. He seems to have been the leader of the Tories 
even at that time, for he did most of the correspondence 
with Governor Caswell in securing passports for them. 


He, with others, went to Jamaica; but soon afterwards 
returned to the states, joined the British forces in Geor- 
gia in 1778, and assisted in the capture of Savannah that 
year. In the meantime, his property had been confiscat- 
ed by the State government. 

"Hamilton's career as a soldier in the British army 
was brilliant. He entered the army as a private, but 
rapidly won distinction, reaching the rank of colonel in 
little more than a year's time. In one of his many bat- 
tles with the patriots, he was captured by Colonel Wil- 
liam Washington in 1780, but shortly afterwards ex- 
changed and rejoined the British army. He was placed 
in command of the Royal North Carolina regiment in 
1781 and commissioned to enroll in his regiment Tories 
of North and South Carolina and Virginia. He was with 
Lord Cornwallis, in his campaigns in the South, and sur- 
rendered with him at Yorktown. 

"After the treaty of peace, he went to England and 
lived there for several years. Later, he was British con- 
sul at Norfolk, Va., and often during his term of office 
there visited Halifax, and mingled freely with the 
friends he knew there before the outbreak of the war." 



While the Provincial Council of Safety was in session 
at Halifax, a resolution was adopted calling upon the 
people to elect, on the 15th of October, delegates to a 
Congress appointed to assemble at Halifax, November 
12, 1776. This Congress was not only to make laws, but 
also to form a State constitution, and can, with proprie- 
ty be called the First Constitutional Convention of North 
Carolina. The elections were held throughout the State in 
accordance with the call. The following were elected to 
represent Halifax County in the Congress and Conven- 
tion: John Bradford, James Hogan, Willis Alston, Sam- 
uel Weldon, and Benjamin McCulloch. For the town of 
Halifax, Willie Jones was elected. During the session, 
James Hogan, having been elected Colonel of the seventh 
regiment of continental troops, tendered his resignation 
as delegate for the county, and Egbert Haywood was 
elected to the vacancy. 

The Convention met, as called, November 12th, and 
proceeded to organize. Richard Caswell was elected 
President of the body; Cornelius Harnett, Vice-Presi- 
dent; James Green, Jr., Secretary; and James Glasgow, 
Assistant Secretary. Willie Jones and Benjamin Mc- 
Culloch were members of the committee of privileges 
and elections. John Bradford was a member of the com- 
mittee to settle civil accounts of the State. 

This convention was a notable body. Among its mem- 
bers were some of the most distinguished men of the 
State. In the list of members, there are such names as 
Maurice Moore, Cornelius Harnett, Archibald McLean, 
Phileman Hawkins, Thomas Jones, Richard Caswell, 
Thomas Person, David Caldwell, Waightstill Avery, Al- 

From the painting by Oilbert Stewart 

George Washington 


len Jones, William Hooper, Griffith Rutherford, Joseph 
Hewes, Willie Jones, Abner Nash, and many others, who 
have rendered the State illustrious service in peace and 
in war. With such a galaxy of heroes, the State could 
well make its beginning. 

Soon after assembling, the committee on Bill of Rights 
and Constitution was appointed. Halifax County was 
honored with two members of this committee of twenty- 
eight, Willie Jones and James Hogan. The committee 
was composed of the ablest men in the convention. 

One of the first matters of business was the admission 
of Watauga, in the district of Washington, Tenn., as a 
county. This was done by motion of Willie Jones and 
carried by a vote of 153 to 1. In waiting were the dele- 
gates from the new county, Charles Robertson, John 
Carter, and John Wade, and they were admitted and the 
oath administered to them. Some days later, John Se- 
vier, afterwards renowned in the history of the State 
and nation, another delegate from Watauga, arrived, and 
was admitted. James Hogan was appointed to admin- 
ister the oaths. 

John Bradford and Willie Jones were appointed to ex- 
amine the accounts of Colonel Nicholas Long, rendered 
at the last session of the Congress. The committee 
shortly afterwards reported that the accounts were cor- 
rect and that the allegations against him were ground- 
less. It is unknown just what these charges against Col- 
onel Long were, but the inference was that he was 
charged with misappropriation of funds or extravagance- 
It is certain that the committee, of which Bradford and 
Jones were members, made a searching investigation 
and declared that Colonel Long was blameless. 

By resolution, it was ordered that a battalion of vol- 
unteers be dispatched to the aid of South Carolina, 
which was, at the time, threatened by an invasion of 
British troops. Samuel Weldon was appointed major of 
this battalion and two of the lieutenants were Josiah 
Pearce and John Champion, of Halifax. Later, Jdsiah 


Pearce resigned, and Albritton Jones, of Halifax was ap- 
pointed to succeed him. 

In the records of the meetings of this convention, sev- 
eral orders were entered relative to a magazine for the 
storage of ammunition for the State troops. It was 
probably located in the town of Halifax at or near the 
present spring of that name. From this magazine sup- 
plies were distributed to the troops operating anywhere 
in eastern North Carolina. 

Additional regiments for the Continental line were 
ordered by the Congress, and James Hogan was appoint- 
ed Colonel of one of these regiments, that was raised 
largely in Halifax County. The following men from the 
county were appointed officers in these regiments that 
were to be raised : Henry Dawson, Captain ; William Nob- 
lin. First Lieutenant; Jacob Barrow, Second Lieutenant. 
James Hogan was shortly afterwards assigned to the 
command of the seventh regiment of Continental troops. 

Henry Montford, of Halifax, asked permission to ship 
staves to the West India Islands, and his request was 

December 6th, Thomas Jones, of Chowan County, 
Chairman of the Committee on Bill of Rights and Con- 
stitution, reported that the committee was ready to 
make its report. He read the report to the Convention, 
which body, by motion, appointed December 18 for its 

Automatically, therefore, the Constitution came up for 
discussion on the eighteenth. Thomas Jones, of Chow- 
an, and Willie Jones, of Halifax, are generally credited 
with being the authors of the Constitution as reported to 
the Convention that day. They were, therefore, ardent 
champions of its adoption. Very little opposition was 
developed as the document as written seemed to meet 
the requirements. The paper was read paragraph by 
paragraph, discussed pro and con, and adopted after 
amendments and changes were made. An engrossed 
copy was sent to James Davis, the State printer, at New- 


bern with directions to print and distribute a number of 
copies in each county. 

After the adoption of the Constitution, the Congress 
went into the election of State officers to serve until the 
next meeting of the General Assembly, which was, 
thereafter, to elect all officers of the State government. 
The following were elected: Richard Caswell, Governor; 
James Glasgow, Secretary of State; and the following 
Counsellors of State, — Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Per- 
son, William Day, William Haywood, Edward Starkey, 
Joseph Leech, Thomas Eaton. 

By the same Congress, the militia of Halifax County 
was reorganized with the following officers: Willis 
Alston, Colonel; Samuel Weldon, Lieutenant-Colonel; 
John Geddy, First Major; John Wheaton, Second Major. 

Having completed the task before it of drafting a Con- 
stitution for the new State and making laws and regu- 
lations, needed during that time that tried men's souls, 
the Congress and Constitutional Convention adjorned a 
few days before Christmas, thus giving to the world a 
gift, which has been a blessing to a large part of civili- 


To give anything like a connected account of the serv- 
ices and activities of Halifax County soldiers during the 
Revolution is impossible for the reason that the rosters 
of the Continental line do not give the counties from 
which the companies were enlisted. The militia of the 
county was, also, embraced in the rosters of the dis- 
trict of Halifax, and it is not at all clear what counties of 
the district should be credited with certain troops. 

Two companies from the county, those of Captains Par- 
sons and Dawson, numbering 51 and 54 respectively, are 
mentioned in the reports as being with General Ashe at 
Wilmington in July, 1776. It is possible, therefore, to 
give in only a general way the part which Halifax took 
in winning on the battlefield the independence of the 
State. It is quite sure that these companies went with 
General Ashe the next year, and were with him in the 
campaign in Georgia when that State was conquered by 
the British. 

In the early part of 1777, a recruiting camp, called 
Camp Quanky, was opened at Halifax, for the purpose 
of recruiting the older regiments and for forming the 
three battalions ordered by the Congress. Colonel John 
Williams was in command of the camp and, according to 
the reports sent in from time to time, he was successful 
in enlisting the required number of men in a compara- 
tively brief time. The older regiments were brought up to 
the required number of men, who were quickly dispatched 
to the front. 

During the summer of 1777, the cause of liberty and in- 
dependence was hanging in the balance. Washington's 
army in the North had dwindled to a few thousand men. 


and these were poorly equipped and supplied with arms. 
In great contrast to the condition of the American army- 
was that of the British which had landed at New York, 
in July, numbering thirty thousand men, and was seeking 
to attack and destroy Washington's little command. 

Washington had sent out urgent appeals for reinforce- 
ments to all the states. Governor Caswell issued orders 
for North Carolina's quota of Continental troops to hurry 
to Washington's assistance. Halifax was made the place 
of rendezvous for all these troops before setting out for 
the north. Here about four thousand men assembled. In 
July, under the command of General Francis Nash and 
with such able leaders as Colonels Hogan, Sumner, Bun- 
combe, and Davidson, the troops set out, and, after march- 
ing about five hundred miles, joined Washington at Phila- 
delphia just in time to assist in the disastrous battles of 
Brandywine and Germantown, in which General Nash 
and Colonel Buncombe were killed besides a considerable 
number of the rank and file. 

It is interesting to note that Halifax jail appears to have 
been at this time the general prison for Tories captured 
at different places in the State. Shortly before the estab- 
lishment of Camp Quanky, the celebrated Flora McDonald 
spent some time in Halifax in the interest of her hus- 
band, Allan McDonald, who was captured at the Battle 
of Moore's Creek Bridge and confined in the Halifax jail. 
It is said that, during his confinement, she exhausted her 
means in trying to effect his release, which she finally 
succeeded in accomplishing. 

In the spring of 1777, the Tory hydra began to show 
itself in a limited way in Halifax County. The county 
records of that date show that the jail was filled with 
persons charged with disaffection to the patriot cause. 
Willie Jones, in a letter to Governor Caswell, speaks of 
these prisoners as being very obnoxious. It is worthy of 
note that these Halifax County patriots were vigilant 
enough to prevent anything like organized bands of ma- 
rauders among the Tories, and, as soon as a Tory showed 


his hand, he was promptly arrested and put into a dry 
place in jail. 

In Edgecombe County, there had been considerable 
trouble with the Tories. A marauding party of them had 
made an attack upon Tarboro, but Colonel Irwin, of that 
county had forestalled them and disarmed the whole 
crowd, forcing them to take the oath of allegiance. It is 
quite clear that some of these men who were giving 
trouble in Edgecombe had fled from Halifax. 

John Hamilton and Andrew Miller had left the county 
and State some months before. Other Tories had gone 
with them, and it was thought that Toryism was at an 
end; but William Brimage, a man of considerable influ- 
ence in Halifax, in 1777, became outspoken in his alle- 
giance to the British crown and made himself especially 
obnoxious. Governor Caswell issued a special order for 
his arrest at all hazard. General Allen Jones, in command 
of the brigade of the Halifax district, in one of his reports, 
speaks of William Brimage as one of the leaders of the 
cut throats. He fled from Halifax and was arrested near 
Edenton and lodged in jail there. His wife is buried in 
the old churchyard at Halifax. With him ended Toryism 
in Halifax County. Thereafter, there were no Tories in 

With Toryism thus stamped out, Halifax County passed 
the remainder of the year 1777 with very little excite- 
ment. The only other thing of note was the session of the 
court of oyer and terminer, held by Judge Samuel Spencer 
in the summer of that year. In a letter to the governor. 
Judge Spencer complained that he had great difficulty 
in securing persons to act as clerk of the court and 
State's attorney. This was one of the few sessions of 
that court that was held in Halifax during the Revolu- 
tion, owing to the disordered condition of the country. 

In the fall of 1777, an incident occurred that is worthy 
of mention. Lieutenant John Allen, a gallant soldier in 
the battalion of Continental troops from Halifax, per- 
formed a heroic feat in bringing from Baltimore to New- 


bern $2485.50, which was to be used to pay off soldiers. 
Allen was selected by John Penn, member of the Conti- 
nental Congress from North Carolina, for this special 
duty. He secured a swift horse, and, with the money 
concealed about his person, made the perilous trip 
through British and Tory lines to Newbern and delivered 
the money into the hands of Governor Caswell. Lieu- 
tenant Allen was highly commended by his superior offi- 
cers for this act of heroism. The report of this heroic 
act is found in the Colonial Records. 


In the summer of 1775, during the excitement incident 
to the war then going on, John Paul Jones, who after- 
wards won the title of "father of the American navy", 
came to Halifax and sojourned there for more than a 
year. He had, prior to that time, varied experiences, and 
had met with many misfortunes. In early manhood, he 
had gone from his native country, Scotland, as a sailor, 
had been master of a trader, had killed a man in self- 
defense during a mutiny of the sailors, and had to flee 
from the avengers of blood on account of that act. Com- 
ing to America, he had made his way to Virginia, and 
finally he found himself in Halifax. 

One morning, as the story is told, Willie Jones came 
down the street from his home, the Grove House, and 
saw sitting in front of the Eagle Hotel a stranger. As 
was the custom of Mr. Jones, he came up to the stranger 
and accosted him. 

"Where is your home?" asked Mr. Jones. 

"I have none," replied the other. 

"What is your nam.e ?" inquired the questioner. 

"I have none", replied the disconsolate stranger. 

Mr. Jones became interested, and, after a few more 
questions, succeeded in getting the stranger to tell him 
something of himself. He was invited to the Groves, 
and later, on account of his ready wit and gentlemanly 
bearing, became an adopted member of the family. The 
stranger was no other than the afterwards celebrated 
John Paul Jones. His name was John Paul, but, in com- 
pliment to Willie Jones, he assumed the name of Jones. 

Through the influence of Willie Jones, Joseph Hewes, 
a member of the Continental Congress from North Caro- 


lina, became acquainted with John Paul, probably during 
the Constitutional Convention in Halifax, and later 
nominated him for the position of Captain of the gun- 
boat, Ranger, which position was tendered him by vote 
of Congress. John Paul accepted the position tendered 
him, and never again was a visitor to Halifax, but he re- 
tained his admiration of Willie Jones even among the 
stirring scenes he later witnessed. 

As commander of the Ranger, John Paul Jones per- 
formed some daring deeds of valor in British waters and 
even upon British soil. He was received in France as a 
hero, and the French government, in the spring of 1779, 
fitted out a squadron, with the Bonhomme Richard as 
the flag ship, and put Jones in command. On the 23rd 
of September, 1779, the British frigate, Serapis, was en- 
countered, and the Bonhomme Richard, at once, pre- 
pared for action. The following account of the battle 
that followed is taken from that of James Fenimore 
Cooper, who pronounced it "The most bloody and obsti- 
nate battle in the annals of naval warfare." While not 
a quotation from Cooper, the account that follows is in 
accordance with the facts as brought out by him. 

When Jones sighted the enemy, it was about noon, 
and he at once ordered every stitch of canvas to be set. 
He did not, however, come in fighting position with the 
enemy until about seven o'clock in the evening, at which 
time objects on the water could be only dimly discerned, 
but the bright moon assisted the Americans. 

When within pistol shot, the Richard hurled a broad- 
side at the British ship, and the fight was on. The Sera- 
pis was a new ship, built in the best manner, and with a 
much heavier armament than the Richard. She was 
commanded by Captain Richard Pearson, of the British 
navy, a naval officer of experience and courage. 

In the early part of the action, the superior sailing 
qualities of the Serapis enabled her to take several ad- 
vantageous positions, which Jones was unable to prevent. 
Not long after the fight began, many of the 18-pound 


shot of the Serapis had entered the hull of the Richard 
below the water line, and she began to leak in a threat- 
ening manner. Jones ran the Richard up alongside the 
Serapis and prepared to board, but the flag pole of his 
ship was shot away and the Stars and Stripes dropped 
into the sea. 

Just before the boats closed, however. Captain Pear- 
son, of the Serapis shouted above the roar of the battle 
to Jones : "Has your ship struck her colors ?" 

Jones thundered back his defiant and famous reply: 
"I haven't begun to fight yet". 

From the beginning to the ending of the battle, there 
was not a man on board the Richard, who was ignorant 
of the superiority of the Serapis. The crew of the Sera- 
pis were picked men, whereas the Richard's crew con- 
sisted of a part of English, French and American sailors, 
and a part of Maltese, Portuguese, and Malays, the latter 
contributing by their want of naval skill and knowledge 
of the English language to depress rather than encour- 
age any reasonable hope of success in a combat under 
such circumstances. 

The terror of the scene was soon heightened by both 
vessels taking fire ; but the fight continued with unabated 
fury. A rumor ran through the crew of the Richard 
that Jones had been killed. A frightened sailor ran up 
to haul down the flag. The flag had been shot away and 
Jones arrived upon the scene in time to knock the coward 
down and force him to continue the fight. At last the 
mainmast of the Serapis began to totter to its fall, her 
fire slackened, and about midnight the British flag was 
struck, and Captain Pearson surrendered his sword to 

So terribly was the Richard cut to pieces that it was 
found impossible, after the fight, to get her into port, 
and she sank soon after. Jones took his prize to Holland, 
and it is no exaggeration to say that the whole world 
was astonished at his bravery and success. He was re- 
ceived in Paris with the greatest demonstrations of 


honor and respect. On one side of the English Channel 
it was "the pirate Jones," and on the other, "Jones, the 
hero." The King of France gave him a gold mounted 
sword and asked the consent of Congress to decorate 
him with the Order of Military Merit. Congress voted 
him its thanks and a gold medal. Later, he was made a 
Chevalier of France. 

Jones, now a hero of renown, remained in France until 
the early part of 1781 when he returned to America and 
was placed in command of the frigate America. He set 
forth his ideas of a navy, which the government was 
slow in adopting. He went again to France in 1783, 
where he remained for four years, and returned to Amer- 
ica in 1787. The next year Jones entered the service of 
Russia, but was later humiliated by the jealousy of the 
Russian officers and compelled to resign his command. 
Returning to France, he remained in retirement during 
the rest of his life. He died July 18, 1792, in the forty- 
fifth year of his age. 

His remains were buried in Paris, and, by neglect, the 
burial place was lost. In 1905, however, the remains 
were discovered by General Horace Porter, the American 
Ambassador to France, and transported to America and 
consigned to rest at the United States Naval Academy 
at Annapolis. There is a monument to the "Father of 
the American Navy" in Potomac Park, Washington, D. C. 



Very little of historical importance occurred in Hali- 
fax during the years 1779 and 1780. Stirring events, 
however, in which troops from the county played a con- 
spicuous part, were transpiring elsewhere. "Mad" An- 
thony Wayne, in one of the most daring and extraordi- 
nary bayonet charges in all history, captured Stony 
Point on the Hudson river from the British, July 15, 1779. 
Major Hardy Murfree, of Hertford County, with a bat- 
talion of North Carolinians, some from Halifax, led a 
portion of the attacking columns and performed heroic 
service. Horatio Gates was disastrously defeated at 
Camden, S. C, by the British under Cornwallis, and Ben- 
jamin Lincoln surrendered Charleston. In both of these 
disasters, soldiers from Halifax participated with signal 
though unavailing bravery. 

At Charleston, James Hogan, who had shortly before 
been promoted to the rank of brigadier-general by the 
Continental Congress, fell into the hands of the British, 
was imprisoned at Haddrell's Point, S. C, and there soon 
afterward died. With him was captured, also, the regi- 
ment of 600 men he had enlisted at Halifax the year be- 
fore. It is said of General Hogan, whose home was near 
where Hobgood is now, that he refused the offer of a 
conditional parole because his men were not offered the 
same favor and preferred to remain and bear the hard- 
ships of prison life with them. His grave is somewhere 
in South Carolina, but the exact location is unknown. 

At Camden, the American army was almost anni- 
hilated by the veteran troops under Earl Cornwallis. 


General Gates fled from the field early in the fight and 
left the doomed men to destruction. Hal Dixon's regi- 
ment of North Carolinians, some of them fr-om Halifax, 
and some Marylanders, were the only troops to hold their 
ground to the last, retreating in good order from the 
field only when it was seen that all was lost. General 
Isaac Gregory, of Camden County, led the Edenton bri- 
gade, among whom were some Halifax militia, but he 
was wounded and forced to retreat. 

Two sessions of the General Assembly were held in 
Halifax during 1779, the first beginning January 19th 
and ending February 13th, and the second extending 
from October 18th to November 10th. In both of these 
sessions, the County was represented in the Senate by 
Orondates Davis and in the House of Commons, the first 
session, by Egbert Haywood and John Whitaker, and the 
second session by Willie Jones and Augustine Willis. The 
town of Halifax was represented in the House of Com- 
mons, both sessions, by Henry Montford. 

Not much legislation affecting the county was enacted. 
About the only thing of note was the petition of the 
people of the lower end of the county to be detached 
from Halifax and united to Edgecombe. There appears 
to have been no objection to this on the part of the Hali- 
fax members. John Whitaker, in response to the peti- 
tioners, introduced the bill for this slice of Halifax to be 
transferred to Edgecombe, and the generous deed was 
done. By vote of the Assembly, the following officers of 
the Halifax regiment of State Militia were elected : John 
Whitaker, Colonel; James Allen, Lieutenant-Colonel; 
John Branch, First Major; William Weldon, Second 

Halifax, being at the time the real capital of North 
Carolina, was well guarded by the militia of the State. 
Several regiments were continuously held in camp in 
and around the town. The jail was also still crowded 
with military prisoners. In June, 1779, General Allen 
Jones, in command at Halifax, in a report to the gov- 


ernor, said that he was compelled to give the prisoners 
all the liberty possible because of the crowded condition 
of the jail and because he feared an epidemic might 
break out among them. At the session of the General 
Assembly of 1780, the following officers of the Halifax 
regiment were recommended to the governor for appoint- 
ment and were accordingly commissioned: James Allen, 
Colonel; John Branch, Lieutenant-Colonel; William Wel- 
don, First Major; Thomas Scurlock, Second Major. 

The year 1781, was a stirring one for Halifax County 
and its people. Several events, occurring elsewhere, but 
participated in by Halifax County men, deserve more 
than a passing notice. 

At the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, January 17, 
1781, Colonel Tarleton, with a command of British regu- 
lars, was signally defeated by General Daniel Morgan, of 
Virginia, with a small body of Continental troops and a 
few battalions of North Carolina militia. In this con- 
flict, Halifax County soldiers performed heroic service. 

Nicholas Long, a kinsman of Colonel Nicholas Long 
and a gallant soldier in the Halifax battalion of Conti- 
nental Cavalry, was with Colonel William Washington in 
his celebrated chase of Tarleton from the battlefield, in 
which Tarleton received a sabre cut in the hand admin- 
istered by Colonel Washington. In the pursuit Long be- 
came separated from his comrades and found himself 
assailed by two British troopers. He wheeled and took 
the back track, hotly pursued by the dragoons, who fired 
upon him but missed their aim. In the chase, the troopers 
became separated, and Long observing it, suddenly 
turned upon his pursuers, and, with his sabre, unhorsed 
both men in detail and held them at his mercy until as- 
sistance arrived. 

In Morgan's race with Cornwallis for the Catawba river 
and in Greene's retreat to the sheltering waters of the 
Dan, Halifax County troops performed their part. When 
Greene recrossed the Dan and fought Cornwallis to a 
standstill at Guilford Court House, men from Halifax 


were in the thickest of the attacks and counter attacks. 
When the British army retreated to Wilmington about 
the first of April, 1781, it was clearly demonstrated that 
North Carolina had beaten the hitherto invincible Corn- 
wallis and was sending him to his doom. 



After the retreat of Cornwallis from Guilford Court 
House to Wilmington in March, 1781, it was a matter of 
keen speculation as to what that discreet and intrepid offi- 
cer would next undertake. Patriot leaders all over the 
State had their attention focused upon him and were en- 
deavoring to forecast his next move. Lingering only 
three weeks in the city by the sea to rest his troops from 
their arduous campaign, Cornwallis proceeded north- 
ward to Virginia in response to orders he had received 
from the British Commander-in-chief in New York. 

General Greene, instead of pursuing the defeated Brit- 
ish, turned aside and led his army into South Carolina in 
order to expel the British from that State. Cornwallis 
was, therefore, left to march unopposed, across the State. 
Only a few regiments of State Militia were in arms, and 
they were busy watching the movements of the Tory 
forces that had begun to mobilize. 

At Halifax, as soon as it was known that Cornwallis 
was marching northward, there was great excitement 
among the people and hurried preparation among the 
soldiers stationed there. General Allen Jones, in command 
of the troops of the Halifax district, with Governor Nash, 
was holding his forces in readiness to attack the invading 
enemy if an opportunity should be presented. General 
Jones had his headquarters in Halifax and the regiments 
from Northampton, Edgecombe, Warren and Halifax were 
encamped along Quanky in daily expectation that the 
enemy would appear. 

About the first of May, it was known that the British 
had left Wilmington and were several days on the march. 
Scouting parties were sent out from Halifax to ascertain 






1 ^jI^^I 





their whereabouts. It was learned on May 3rd that Tarle- 
ton's dragoons had crossed Fishing Creek and were ad- 
vancing along the Huckleberry Swamp road. Governor 
Nash and General Jones held a hasty conference together 
with the commissioned officers of the different regiments, 
and the decision was reached that it would be a useless 
expenditure of life to undertake to oppose the advance of 
the British with untried militia against Tarleton's veteran 

Accordingly, on the afternoon of May 3rd, General 
Jones retired with his command in the direction of War- 
renton, leaving Halifax to the mercy of the enemy. Gov- 
ernor Nash and the Council of State, together with 
other State officials, also left the town. Halifax, therefore, 
readily and quickly put aside its military appearance and 
assumed the air of an unpretentious village. 

The next day, Tarleton at the head of two hundred 
dragoons, crossed Quanky and rode into the town. The 
redcoats passed down the street, observed indifferently 
and scornfully by the people, and came opposite the Eagle 
Hotel where they halted. Tarleton and his aids dis- 
mounted and went into the hotel and secured rooms for 
Cornwallis and his retinue and himself and his aids. Again 
mounting, they rode back to meet Cornwallis and the rest 
of the army. The town was completely occupied on the 
afternoon of May 4th, and the British troops to the num- 
ber of about four thousand encamped on Quanky, on the 
Grove estate, on the plantation of Colonel Nicholas Long, 
and in the homes of the residents in and around Halifax. 

From Wheeler's History of North America the follow- 
ing incident of the occupation is extracted. It was origi- 
nally published in the People's and Howitt's Journal of 
New York : 

"On the march of the British army from Wilmington to 
Virginia, in 1781, Colonel Tarleton, near 'Twanky Chapel' 
in Halifax County, either from a scarcity of provisions 
or from a malicious desire to destroy the property of the 
American citizens who were opposed to the British, 


caught all the horses, cattle, hogs, and even fowls that 
he could lay hands on, and destroyed or appropriated them 
to his own use. The male, and most of the female in- 
habitants of the country fled from the approach of the 
British troops, and hid themselves in the swamps and 
forests adjacent ; and when they passed through the upper 
part of the county, while every one else left the premises 
on which she lived, Mrs. Powell (then Miss Bishop) stood 
her ground, and faced the foe fearlessly. But it would 
not do ; they took their horses and cattle, and among the 
former, a favorite pony lof her own and drove them off to 
the Camp, which was about a mile distant. Young as she 
was, she determined to have her pony again, and she must 
necessarily go to the British camp, and go alone, as no 
one would accompany her. And alone she went, on foot, at 
night, and without any weapon of defence, and in due 
time arrived at the British camp. 

"By what means she managed to gain an audience with 
Tarleton is not known, but she appeared before him un- 
announced, and raising herself erect, said, T have come 
to you, sir, to demand restoration of my property, which 
your knavish fellows stole from my father's yard.' 'Let 
me understand you. Miss,' replied Tarleton, taken com- 
pletely by surprise. 

" 'Well, sir,' said she, 'your roguish men in red coats 
came to my father's yard about sundown, and stole my 
pony, and I have walked here alone and unprotected to 
claim and demand him ; and, sir, I must and will have him. 
I fear not your men; they are base and unprincipled 
enough to dare to offer insult to any unprotected female ; 
but their cowardly hearts will prevent them from doing 
her bodily injury.' 

"And just then, by the light of a camp fire, espying her 
own dear little pet pony at a distance, she continued, 
'There, sir, is my horse. I shall mount him and ride 
peaceably home ; and if you have any of the gentlemanly 
feeling within you of which your men are totally desti- 
tute, or if you have any regard for their safety, you will 


see, sir, that I am not interrupted. But before I go I 
wish to say to you, that he who can, and will not prevent 
this base and cowardly stealing from henroosts, stables, 
and barnyards, is no better, in my estimation, than the 
mean, good-for-nothing, guilty wretches who do the dirty 
work with their own hands ! Good night, sir.' And, with- 
out waiting further, she took her pony, uninterrupted, and 
galloped safely home. Tarleton was so astounded that he 
ordered that she should be permitted to do as she chose." 

This was Tarleton's first defeat at Halifax at the hands 
of a woman. He met with another more crushing a day 
or two later. Mrs. Ellet, in her "Women of the Revolu- 
tion", has recorded the names of two Halifax women, Mrs. 
Willie Jones and Mrs. Nicholas Long, whose patriotic zeal 
is greatly commended. Wheeler speaks as follows about 
Mrs. Jones: 

"Mrs. Willie Jones was a daughter of Colonel Mount- 
ford (Joseph), and combined with much personal beauty, 
great brilliancy of wit, and suavity of manner. One of 
her acquaintances says that she was the only person, with 
whom he was ever acquainted, that was loved devotedly, 
enthusiastically loved, by every human being who knew 

There is a well known story regarding a passage of 
wit between Mrs. Jones and her sister, Mrs. John B. 
Ashe, on the one hand, and Colonel Tarleton on the other. 
The incident occurred at the home of Willie Jones, the 
Grove house. Colonel Tarleton, in the presence of the 
two ladies, referred to Colonel William Washington, who 
had wounded Tarleton in the hand at the Battle of Cow- 
pens, in an uncomplimentary way as an illiterate, igno- 
rant boor, hardly able to write his name. Mrs. Jones 
quickly resented the language used by the British officer. 

"Colonel Tarleton," she said, "You know very well 
that Colonel Washington, if he can't write as well as 
some men, knows how to make his mark." As she said 
this she glanced at Tarleton's hand, which bore the scar 
of Washington's sabre stroke. The fiery Briton turned 
red, but continued the conversation. 


"I would be happy to see Colonel Washington," said 
Tarleton, sarcastically, trying to recover his lost ground. 

"If you had looked behind you at the Battle of Cow- 
pens, Colonel Tarleton," rejoined Mrs. Ashe, in the same 
spirit, "You would have enjoyed that pleasure." 

That thrust was too much for the already chagrined 
officer, and his hand involuntarily grasped the hilt of his 
sword. At that moment, however, General Leslie, Tarle- 
ton's superior, entered the room, and, seeing the situa- 
tion, rebuked the discomfited Briton, and the incident 

Wheeler speaks as follows of Mrs. Nicholas Long: 
"Mrs. Long was a Miss McKinney. Her husband. Col- 
onel Nicholas Long, was Commissary-General of the 
North Carolina forces. She was a woman of great energy 
of mind and body, and high mental endowments. She 
died at the advanced age of eighty, leaving a numerous 
offspring. Her virtues and patriotism were the themes 
of the praise and admiration of the officers of the army 
of both parties." 

While encamped at Halifax, foraging parties were 
sent out by Cornwallis into nearly every section of the 
county to gather supplies for his army before setting 
out to Virginia. Stedman, the historian who was with 
the British during the occupation of Halifax, records the 
fact that these foraging parties, or marauders, were 
guilty of some crimes that were a disgrace to the name 
of man. Tarleton, in his "Campaign in the Southern 
Provinces of North America", states that a sergeant and 
a dragoon were executed at Halifax for rape and robbery. 

The patriot forces, who had retired from the town 
upon the arrival of the British, kept watch upon the 
movements of the enemy, and were ready at any time 
to pounce upon them. The Edgecombe regiment under 
Colonel Hunter, Halifax under Colonel Allen, and North- 
ampton under Colonel Gee were still in arms and ready 
to strike the foe at a minute's notice. There were un- 
important clashes between the opposing commands at 


Swift Creek, Fishing Creek, and near Halifax. In one 
of the bold dashes of the patriots into Halifax, one of 
the American cavalry-men became separated from his 
comrades, and, as he dashed for safety across Quanky 
bridge, was confronted on the bridge by several of the 
enemy. Beset behind and before, he reared his horse 
and made him leap the railing, plunging to the water 
thirty feet below. The horse was killed, but the daring 
hero made his escape. Tradition does not record his 

After a delay of about a week, Cornwallis crossed the 
river at Halifax and retired slowly through Northamp- 
ton and Brunswick County, Va., to Petersburg, where he 
was joined by the British army operating in the Old Do- 
minion under General Philips and the traitor, Benedict 
Arnold. Halifax was thus rid of the enemy and was 
at once reoccupied by General Allen Jones in command 
of the Halifax brigade. Cornwallis, after a short and 
decisive campaign in Virginia, surrendered his entire 
command to General Washington on October 19, 1781. 



News of the surrender of Cornwallis was received in 
Halifax, late in October, 1781, with demonstrations of 
joy. The militia in arms paraded the streets and fired sa- 
lutes in honor of the glorious tidings. Everyone felt that 
the long war had victoriously ended, that the indepen- 
dence of the colonies was established, and that British 
dominion was forever terminated in the United Colonies. 

Each of the thirteen states was now independent, and, 
there were, therefore, thirteen sovereign republics, where 
a few years before there had been thirteen provinces. 
Each one was independent of all others and owed no alle- 
giance to any power on earth. An important question now 
uppermost in the minds of all was to determine where this 
spirit of sovereignty would lead and how to regulate its 

In the solution of this important and perplexing ques- 
tion, Willie Jones, the sage of Quanky Creek, performed 
an interesting part. He had served as a delegate in the 
Continental Congress during the closing years of the 
Revolution ; but now that the war had closed he refused 
to act in that capacity longer, saying that the Congress 
had been created as a war expedient, and, having done its 
work, there was no longer any reason for its existence. 
He, therefore, retired from the Congress to his home in 
Halifax, and refused to take part in any further business 
of a national character. North Carolina was the only 
sovereignty he acknowledged. 

For several years after the close of the Revolution, 
there is very little to record. When peace was declared 
the men, who had been on the firing line, in garrisons, 
and in camp, returned to their homes, and began again 


the building up of their communities. Apparently, so 
glad was every one that the terrible war had closed that 
no one was thoughtful enough to perpetuate in writing, 
or otherwise, the part that the county had taken in the 
momentous struggle. 

It is said that, after the close of the Revolution, there 
was not even a pamphlet written on State history for a 
period of about forty-five years. In consequence of this 
neglect, North Carolina has never received credit for 
what her people did during those times. Along this line 
a letter written from Halifax to Archibald D. Murphy 
by Allen J. Davie in 1826 will be illuminating. Among 
other things he said : 

"In writing a history of this State, it will be almost 
absolutely necessary, in order to do justice to the part we 
bore in the Revolution to have access to my father's pa- 
pers, particularly of some books of correspondence writ- 
ten from '79 to '83, which show that North Carolina 
supported the troops of the whole Southern States, and, 
that without the aid of the specific tax laid by this State 
and placed under the management of my father, General 
Greene would have been forced to disband his army and 
the cavalry of Virginia, which they could not feed; that 
both man and horse grew fat on the flesh pots of the Roa- 
noke ; circumstances for which, as a State, we have never, 
either as a State or as individuals, had justice awarded 

Mr. Davie, in this letter, is referring to the services 
which his father. General William R. Davie, rendered 
the State while he was Commissary-General. It is clear, 
therefore, as "both man and horse grew fat on the flesh 
pots of the Roanoke," that Halifax County, occupying the 
greatest extent along the Roanoke, was a large part of 
the granary which supplied the needs of the southern 
army during the times that tried men's souls. 

During this period of comparative silence, it can only 
be inferred that the people of Halifax County were "pur- 
suing the even tenor of their way" with very little to 


characterize them above the people of other counties. Dr. 
Kemp P. Battle, of the University of North Carolina, in 
an address at the Centennial of Salem Academy in 1902, 
gave a pen picture of the conditions prevailing in North 
Carolina during the generation following the Revolution, 
much of which applies directly to Halifax County. Among 
other things, he says: 

"Our geographer of 1802 speaks kindly of our people. 
He described them as mostly planters, living three or 
four miles apart in a plentiful country, but with no ready 
market for produce. Many farmers turned their corn in- 
to whiskey and their wheat into flour, and sent them on 
lumbering wagons to distant regions, while others con- 
verted the grain into hogs, and the produce of the fields 
thus became at once a savory article of food and a grunt- 
ing but convenient vehicle for the transportation of it- 
self. Hogsheads of tobacco were placed on little wheels, 
with axletree and shafts and then rolled hundreds of 
miles to market. 

"The farmers with no near neighbors were extremely 
hospitable to travelers, who brought them the news from 
the great world; but they had a plentiful lack of litera- 
ture and science." 

For Halifax County farmers, the only markets, of any 
degree of importance, during the period from 1780 to 
1800, were Petersburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. To these 
towns of the Old Dominion, the farmers along the Roa- 
noke sent their produce, sometimes in wagons, and of- 
ten in boats, down the river and sound to the ocean, and 
up to Norfolk. Droves of hogs, sheep, and cattle were 
regularly driven overland to these cities. Hogsheads of 
tobacco, as mentioned by Dr. Battle, were regularly trans- 
ported on wheels to Petersburg, where tobacco factories 
had been located, and where there was a ready market. 
Halifax County, thus isolated, but naturally rich, began 
its slow development. 

William R. Davie 



Early in 1786, the question of North Carolina's attitude 
toward a central government for the thirteen indepen- 
dent States was uppermost in politics. In no county was 
it more discussed than in Halifax, where two distinct 
views were held. Willie Jones was an ultra States 
Rights man and looked with disfavor upon the proposi- 
tion. Opposed to him was General William R. Davie, 
who had located in Halifax for the practice of law in 
1783, and who was an earnest advocate of the proposi- 
tion to unite the States in a stronger bond of union than 
existed under the Articles of Confederation. Each of 
these distinguished and able men had their earnest sup- 

When the Constitutional Convention was called to meet 
in Philadelphia, in May 1787, the General Assembly se- 
lected the following delegates: Richard Caswell, Hugh 
Williamson, William R. Davie, Alexander Martin, Willie 
Jones, and Richard Dobbs Spaight. Halifax County had 
two in this eminent body, Willie Jones and William R. 
Davie. Richard Caswell was, at the time, governor of 
the State and decline to serve, William Blount, of Beau- 
fort County, being appointed in his place. Willie Jones 
refused to have anything to do with the convention and 
did not go. Davie went to Philadelphia and was present 
throughout the long session from May to September 
and had considerable influence in making and shaping 
the immortal document. 

After the Constitutional Convention adjourned, Gen- 
eral Davie returned to Halifax an enthusiastic advocate 
of the immediate adoption of the Constitution by the 
State. Willie Jones, however, counselled caution and de- 


lay. The State Convention to ratify or reject it was 
called to meet in Hillsboro in August, 1788. Both Willie 
Jones and William R. Davie were delegates from Hali- 
fax County, and were the real leaders of their respective 
views in the discussions. 

Soon after assembling, it was ascertained that the 
Anti-Federalists were in the majority. Willie Jones was 
the recognized leader of that division of the delegates 
and had the convention in his grasp from beginning to 
end. Notwithstanding the eloquence of Davie and the 
logic of James Iredell in advocacy of the constitution, 
when the vote was taken, the constitution was reject- 
ed by a vote of 84 to 184. North Carolina thus refused 
to enter the union and took no part in the election of 
George Washington as president in the fall of 1788. 
The next year, however, another convention at Fay- 
etteville ratified the Constitution, and North Carolina 
became a member of the Federal union. 

On April 16, 1791, George Washington, in his tour of 
the Southern States, while he was president, arrived in 
Halifax and spent a night in the ancient borough. There 
is nothing definitely known as to how he was entertained 
during his stay. Tradition has given out the informa- 
tion that he was royally banqueted at the Eagle Hotel, 
which stood near the river in the lot almost opposite the 
old Allen home, now standing. The president seems to 
have been somewhat impressed with the town ; for in his 
diary, which he kept on his journey from place to 
place, he has a lengthy paragraph conveying his im- 
pressions. The following is the paragraph referred to 
somewhat modernized as to punctuation and capitali- 
zation : 

"Halifax, N. C, Saturday, April 16, 1791. 

"At this place, I arrived at about six o'clock after cross- 
ing the Roanoke, on the south bank of which it stands. 
This river is crossed in flat boats which take in a car- 
riage and four horses at once. At this time, being low. 


the water was not rapid, but at times must be much so 
as it frequently overflows its banks which appear to be at 
least twenty-five feet perpendicularly in height. The 
lands upon the river appear to be rich and the low 
grounds of considerable width, but these which lay be- 
tween the different rivers, namely, Appomattox, Notta- 
way, Meherrin, and Roanoke, are all flat and poor and 
covered principally with pine timber. It has already 
been observed that before the rain fell, I was travel- 
ling in a continued cloud of dust; but after it rained 
some time, the scene was reversed, and my passage Vv^as 
through water, so level are the roads. From Petersburg 
to Halifax, in sight of the road, are but few good houses 
with small appearance of wealth. The lands are culti- 
vated in tobacco, corn, wheat, and oats ; but tobacco and 
the raising of pork for market seems to be the princi- 
pal dependence of the inhabitants, especially toward the 
Roanoke. Cotton and flax are also raised but not exten- 
sively. Halifax is the first town I came to after passing 
the line between the two states, and is about twenty 
miles from this place, vessels by the aid of oars and set- 
ting poles are brought for the produce which comes to 
this place and others along the river; and may be car- 
ried eight or ten miles higher to the falls, which are 
neither great nor much extent; above these (which are 
called great falls) there are others, but none but what 
with little improvement may be passed. The town stands, 
upon high ground, and it is the reason given for not plac- 
ing it at the head of navigation being none but low 
grounds between (it) and the falls. It seems to be in a 
decline, and does not, it is said, contain a thousand souls." 
One singular thing about this record in the diary of 
the "Father of His Country" is that he makes no men- 
tion of anyone he met at Halifax, notwithstanding the 
fact that a galaxy of brilliant men lived there at the time. 
It is said that Willie Jones was asked to be chairman of 
the committee to entertain the president during his so- 
journ, but he declined with the remark that he would be 


glad to meet Washington as a gentleman and soldier, 
but that he could not greet him as President of the Unit- 
ed States. This is understood to mean that the veteran 
States Rights advocate had never been reconciled to the 
adoption of the Federal Constitution and v/as still op- 
posed to North Carolina's membership in the national 

In the first election of members of Congress from 
North Carolina, in 1790, Halifax County furnished one 
of the five that represented the State in the House of 
Representatives. John B. Ashe, who had served with 
ability in the Revolution, received an almost unanimous 
vote in the Halifax district. He was re-elected in the 
fall of 1791 and served until 1793. Halifax County was 
signally honored during these early years of the State 
and Country's history. John Haywood, a lawyer of 
ability, was elected Attorney-General of the State in 
1790 and served until 1794, when he was elected Judge 
of the Superior Court. General William R. Davie was 
appointed Major-General, in 1797, of a division of troops 
raised in anticipation of war with France. The next 
year, the project of war having passed, Davie was elect- 
ed Governor of North Carolina, but resigned in 1799 to 
accept the position of Ambassador to France. 

During the years 1787-1800, Halifax County exerted 
great influence in both State and National affairs. Per- 
haps, no county in the whole country had more men of 
ability and influence. Besides Willie Jones, "William R. 
Davie, and John Haywood, already mentioned, there 
were Egbert Haywood, Nicholas Long, Willis Alston, 
Henry Montford, Orondates Davis, John Webb, Ben- 
jamin McCulloch, John Branch, Matthew C. Whitaker, 
and Peter Quarles, who had already made a state-wide 
reputation as men of real worth and ability. 



For twenty years following the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century, Halifax County had practically no his- 
tory. Nothing beyond the ordinary routine of daily mat- 
ters disturbed the equilibrium of public affairs. Great 
problems of national government were being worked out, 
it is true, and Halifax had a part to perform in their so- 
lution, but no memorials have been left. 

In the Federal House of Representatives, Halifax was 
again prominent from 1799 to 1815. John B. Ashe had 
retired from that position in 1793, and for six years the 
county lost the representative. In 1799, however, Wil- 
lis Alston, Jr., was elected, and was successively re- 
elected until 1815, when he retired from national poli- 
tics. Alston had no opposition for his first two terms, 
but, in 1803, he had the race of his life when his oppo- 
nent was General William R. Davie, who had shortly 
before returned from France almost a national figure. 

The campaign that year was bitter and exciting. Als- 
ton had always been a strong supporter of President 
Jefferson, and therefore, a Democrat, although his ene- 
mies called him an aristocrat. Davie was a Federalist, 
but had recently been appointed by President Jefferson to 
the position of Indian Commissioner for the Southern 
States, and had, in more ways than one, shown decided in- 
clination toward the dominant party. Alston won by a 
narrow margin. General Davie looked upon his defeat as 
the greatest humiliation of his life, and, shortly after 
the election, left Halifax and spent the remainder of his 
life on one of his farms in South Carolina. 

Alston was in Congress during the period of the War 
of 1812 ; and, although the war was not popular in North 


Carolina, he was an earnest supporter of the administra- 
tion at Washington in the conduct of militarv' affairs 
Halifax County furnished two companies for the national 
army in that war, but they saw very little service. In 
1814, they were ordered to Norfolk to resist a threatened 
attack by the British upon that place. While encamped 
there, an epidemic of "Camp Plague" broke out among 
them and many died. It was during the epidemic that 
Colonel Andrew Joyner, who was in command of the 
third regiment of North Carolina Volunteers, endeared 
himself to the soldiers by his daily attention to their 

On account of the interest in the record of these sol- 
diers of Halifax Countj', who volunteered to resist the 
invasion of the British, the complete roster is here given : 

Jeremiah Slade, Lieutenant-Colonel ; James Hill, First 
Major, Andrew Joyner, Second Major; James Overstreet, 
Captain; William C. WTiitaker, Lieutenant; William 
Brickie, Second Lieutenant; Moses, Fifer; pri- 
vates, John Vaughan, William Crowell, John Ricks, James 
Whitaker, Thomas Applewhite, Wallis Nicholson, Timothy 
Connell, Samuel Simmons, John Parker, John Scot, James 
Gaskins, Henry Bradford, Thomas Bradford, William 
Willey, .John Bradford, George Goodwin, Willie Watson 
Thomas B. Parker, David Douglas, Wilson Brantley, John 
Glover, Hall Hudson, John W. Branch, -John Knight, James 
Merrit, Washington Turner, Samuel Brickie, John Shields. 
James Young, John Br\'ant, James Brantly, James Law- 
rence, Benjamin Pearce, John Matthews, Hansel Home. 
Cullen Grimmer, Jethro Parker, Miles Cross, Willis Shel- 
ton, Robert Saunders, Patrick McDaniel, Wilson W. Car- 
ter, John Scott, Edv.-ard King, Hiram King, Jesse A. 
Brooks, Blake Baker, Lewis Lewis, Joseph Pulley, Kin- 
chen Harris, Jacob Bartholomew, James Abington, com- 
posing the first company. 

Of the second company, the following is the roster: 
Isham Matthews, Captain ; Thomas Nicholson, Lieuten- 
ant; John Alston, Ensign; Privates, Zachariah Sullivan. 


Francis Anderson, Halrin Ashe, William Brown, James 
Ashe, William H. Ballance, Robert Brinkley, Jesse Black- 
bum, Asa Blackburn, William J. Bradie, John Coolin. 
John Curtin, Jesse Christie, Samuel Carter, Gideon Dam- 
eron, William R. Daniel, Roderick Easley, Allen Easley, 
Eaton F. Allen, Allen Flood, Wilson Green, Thomas Green, 
William Gurley, Thomas G. Grimestead, Benjamin Green, 
Jesse Hamblet, Miley Harbin, David Harris, Jesse Har- 
low, ~TTabriel Hawkins, John Hawes, Hansel Hathcock, 
Edmund Jackson, Beverly Jackson, Robert Jones, John 
Jordan, John King, Solomon Lochlear, Exum Low, Samuel 
Lochlear, John Lee, Jr., John A. Losset, Jesse Moore, Al- 
fred Moore, John Moore, Jr., William Montford, William 
Moore, John Mann, James Mason, Arthur Manley, Guil- 
ford Nicholson, Thomas H. Green, William Onions, Eaton 
Powell, Rica Pullin, John Pugh, Ransom Powell, Frederick 
Pully, John Porter, Allen Powell, Michael Rand, Joseph 
Studivant, Abner Spear, Thomas Simmons, Peter Ship, 
Whiles Studivant, Arthur Spear, John Weaver, Lemuel 
Wilkins, John Wright, Sr., Caleb Woodard, Thomas Ward. 

This command of North Carolina veterans spent the 
fall and \Ninter of 1814-15 in the trenches near Norfolk, 
Va. They were in expectation of active service when the 
British landed near Washington, D. C, defeated a small 
body of Americans at Bladenburg, Md., and captured the 
capital city. ^Mien the American forces at Fort McHenry, 
near Baltimore, resisted the attacks of the enemy and 
beat them off, it was expected that the next attempt would 
be upon Norfolk. The American forces, at that point, 
among whom were the Halifax companies, were in daily 
and almost hourly expectation that a landing of the enemy 
would be made. 

Admiral Cockburn, however, in command of the Brit- 
ish fleet operating in Chesapeake Bay, made a demonstra- 
tion against Norfolk, entered the mouth of the Elizabeth 
river, measured the American forces in that vicinity, and 
sailed out to sea without striking a blow. The Halifax 
boys were a little disappointed in not getting a chance to 


grapple with the red coats, and, after peace was declared, 
marched back to Halifax and were mustered out of 

During this period, Halifax County continued to have 
commanding influence in the affairs of the State. Hutchins 
G. Burton, who lived near Enfield, was elected Attorney- 
General in 1810, resigned in 1816, was elected to Congress 
in 1819, and served until he was elected Governor in 1824. 
William Drew was chosen Attorney-General in 1816 and 
resigned in November, 1825. He lived in the town of Hal- 
ifax. John Branch, of Enfield, became Governor of the 
State in 1817 and served one term. Joseph J. Daniel was 
elected to the Superior Court bench in 1816 and was later 
elevated to the Supreme Court. All of these men pos- 
sessed more than average ability and reflected honor upon 
themselves and the county, as well as the State. 



In 1824, General Lafayette, the great Frenchman, who 
came to America during the darkest days of the Revo- 
lution, and assisted Washington in achieving American 
independence, made a visit to the land he had fought for 
nearly fifty years before. Lafayette was a veteran of two 
Revolutions. After American independence was assured, 
he returned to France ; and when the great French Revo- 
lution came like a nightmare upon Europe, he espoused 
the cause of the people, but was a Conservative. Different 
from other great Frenchmen of that period, he escaped 
the guillotine, saw the rise and downfall of the first French 
Republic, witnessed the beginning and ending of the 
First Empire, and beheld the Restoration of the Bour- 
bon line of kings. 

Now, in his old age, he had come back to revisit the 
scenes of the battles of his young manhood. In the 
party, besides the General, were his son, whose name is 
unknown, and his secretarj'-, Lerasseur, besides others, 
who have left no memorials. Everywhere throughout the 
country, north and south, the party was received with 
every mark of honor and esteem ; and nowhere more than 
in Halifax County. 

Lerasseur wrote very entertainingly of the receptions 
tendered the aged patriot in the large towns and cities of 
the United States. His account of the trip through Hali- 
fax County is very meager. He says: 

"From Murfreesboro we went next day to Halifax, 
where we crossed the Roanoke in a ferry boat amidst the 
thunder of artillery, which awaited the arrival of Gen- 
eral Lafayette on the opposite shore . . . We only slept 
at Halifax, and, in two days, after traveling over frightful 


roads, reached Raleigh. Nothing was neglected by Gov- 
ernor Burton in doing the honors of his dwelling to the 
national guest." The night spent in Halifax was Feb. 
27, 1825. 

It is well established tradition that, in honor of the 
distinguished guest, a banquet was given at the Eagle 
hotel, and after the banquet, a ball occupied the attention 
of the guests until the "wee sma" hours of the morning. 
General Lafayette was said to have been a graceful dancer, 
and many a Halifax dame, before and after the Civil 
War, took pride in saying she danced with the General 
on that occasion. There was one circumstance that was 
the cause of much comment among the ladies present, 
that General Lafayette's hair was black while that of his 
son was gray. The illusion was dispelled, however, when 
the General frankly stated that he was wearing a wig. 

Next day, Lafayette and his party were escorted, on 
the way to Raleigh, as far as Enfield by a delegation ap- 
pointed for that purpose by Governor Burton. At En- 
field, he was entertained at the Branch residence, outside 
of Enfield, where a great crowd assembled to meet 
him. A school of boys taught by Alexander McClellan, 
one mile from town, carrying cornstalk muskets, attended 
in a body and attracted much attention. General Lafay- 
ette made a speech from the porch to the assembled 
throng, complimented the school boys for their soldierly 
bearing, and pleased the older people by referring to the 
gallant conduct of their fathers in the Revolution. 

Leaving Enfield, the party continued the journey to 
Raleigh, escorted by Adjutant-General Daniel, Colonel 
William Polk, and Chief -Justice Taylor, who had been ap- 
pointed to conduct the party to Raleigh, 

This visit of General Lafayette is commented upon as 
one of the big social events of the times. It is pointed 
out that the Eagle hotel, where the party was entertained 
in Halifax, had been honored before in having Washing- 
ton, on one occasion, as its guest, and in being the head- 
quarters of the members of the Provincial Congresses 


and the General Assemblies, before and during the Revo- 
lution. It was located on a slight elevation, on the right 
hand side of the street coming up from the river, and 
nothing is left now but the remains of the chimneys that 
tumbled to the earth some twenty-five years ago. 

The house in Enfield, in which Lafayette was enter- 
tained, was owned at the time by Governor Branch, who 
was then United States Senator from North Carolina, and 
was the birthplace of General L. O'B. Branch, who ren- 
dered distinguished senice in the Civil War and who was 
four years old at the time of Lafayette's visit. 

Halifax town was, at the time, an important centre, 
both of commercial and social influence. The visit of the 
distinguished Frenchmen called together the principal 
men and women of the county, and, no doubt, the intel- 
lectual and social worth of the inhabitants was fully 


Before, during, and for twenty-five years after the 
Revolution, there is no mention of schools in the County. 
Planters, who did not send their children away to school, 
either to England or some of the northern Colonies, em- 
ployed private tutors for them. It is probable that several 
families, in some localities, united in employing a teacher 
and conducting a school at some central point, to which 
the children of the neighborhood were sent. There was no 
effort made, looking to public education, for more than 
thirty years after the close of the war. 

The first school, of which there is any mention, was 
taught by James B. Benson in the town of Halifax in 1806. 
Of this school there was an advertisement in the Halifax 
Journal, Oct. 6, 1806, in which the principal stated when 
the school would begin its first session, that the price of 
tuition was twelve dollars per year, and that the princi- 
pal would board four orderly, well bred boys in most ample 
and genteel manner. This school seems not to have ex- 
isted long, as a rival soon appeared on the scene. 

In the Halifax Journal of January 12, 1807, there ap- 
peared the following notice: "A school will be opened on 
Monday the 12th inst. in the town of Halifax for the re- 
ception of students, where will be taught the Latin and 
English grammatically, together with writing, arithmetic, 
the mathematics, geography, and the use of the globe. 
All persons interested in promoting a good school in this 
neighborhood are requested to meet at Mr. Hopkins' tav- 
ern on the 24th inst., in order to appoint managers to 
superintend this institution and to settle on terms of tui- 
tion &c." This notice was signed by Robert Fenner. 
Richard H. Long, and W. W. Jones. 


About the year 1810, Vine Hill Academy was organized 
in Scotland Neck. In the same paper of date 1811, there 
is a notice setting forth the fact that the trustees have 
secured as principal Mr. Daniel Adams of Stratford, 
Conn., "who has for two years been principal of a very 
respectable school there, and will now teach the learned 
languages and the various branches preparatory for a 
college education." The notice that "it is hoped from 
the great respectability of his character, his experience 
and success, that this institution will receive the patron- 
age and support its infant state so much requires." This 
school continued as an important factor in the intellec- 
tual life of Scotland Neck for nearly a hundred years. 

From its establishment in 1815 to 1821, there are fre- 
quent notices, in the press of that day, of Union Academy, 
which was located in the town of Halifax. This institu- 
tion was in charge of William E. Webb, with Jesse N. 
Falcon as president of the Board of Trustees. Webb ap- 
pears to have been a man of some ability and influence, 
for he represented the County in the General Assem- 
bly three times before he became Principal of Union 

Farmwell Grove Academy, somewhere in the Aurelian 
Springs section, was established in 1820, and flourished 
until 1837. In "The Star" of June 21st, 1837, appears a 
well written report of the examination exercises of this 
school. Special mention is made of the address of Rev. 
S. J. Harris, in which was enforced the all-important 
point, that of the moral necessity of uniting religion and 
literature in order to insure the grand result of usefulness 
and happiness. This writer signs his name, "Spectator," 
and claims to have no interest in Farmwell Academy, 
other than philanthropy and a love of education. 

In the Raleigh Register of December 30, 1823, there is 
a notice of Enfield Academy in charge of Mr. Philip B. 
Wiley, of Newbern, and again in "The Star" of December 
4, 1828, when Thomas L. Ragsdale was principal and Gov- 
ernor John Branch was president of the Board of Trus- 


tees. This school advertised that board at five dollars a 
month could be obtained in families convenient to the 
academy, "which occupies a high and healthful site re- 
mote from all scenes of dissipation." 

In 1828, a Mrs. Philips announced in the newspapers of 
the day that the first session of her academy for young 
ladies at Hyde Park closed on December 2nd by an exami- 
nation, which was attended by a numerous assemblage 
of the ladies and gentlemen of the vicinity. She claimed 
in the announcement, that all the branches taught in the 
best seminaries, with many ornamental accomplishments, 
would be given in her school, including needlework and 
embroidery, drawing, painting, and music on the piano, 
all for the price of $80 for ten months. She also stated 
that the school was fourteen miles west of Halifax on the 
direct road to Warrenton, that it was remote from all 
scenes of dissipation and extravagance, had pure air and 
water, and a neighborhood society, which for urbanity of 
manners is inferior to none in the country. 

Also advertised in "The Star" and the Raleigh Register, 
there are three other female schools, namely, the Scotland 
Neck Female Academy, La Vallie Female Seminary, and 
Mrs. E. C. Grant's Female Boarding School. One of these 
was on the road from Halifax to Warrenton, and was 
originally, perhaps, the school at Hyde Park already men- 
tioned. Mrs. Grant's School was located a few miles from 
Enfield at the place called Shell Castle, which continued 
as a boarding school for young ladies until after the Civil 
War. The La Vallie School included in its Board of Trus- 
tees David Outlaw, of Bertie, Samuel Arrington, of Nash, 
J. J. Daniel, formerly of Halifax, but at that time living 
in Raleigh as a member of the Supreme Court of North 
Carolina, Isaac Williams, Rev. S. Willis and Mason L. Wig- 
gins, of Halifax. The president of this school was Tippo 
S. Brownlow. 

A few years prior to the Civil War, Mr. Richard Parker 
conducted a select boarding school for young ladies at his 
home near Smith's Church about five miles from Weldon. 


Mr. Parker was a member of the County, or "Old Field," 
Court, as it was called, held many public offices, and was 
guardian for quite a number of wealthy young ladies. This 
last fact was perhaps the explanation of the origin of this 
school, as, in this way, his wards were under his personal 
supervision and enjoyed the privileges of a hospitable 
Christian home. 

In all these schools, the fact is emphasized that accom- 
plished teachers from the North were employed and that 
much attention was given to "manners" and deportment, 
and that pupils from those schools went out to adorn 
many high places in this and other States. 

About 1840, the system of "Free Schools" was intro- 
duced in the county, but they were conducted in a desul- 
tory manner and very little good resulted from them. A 
maximum salary of $30 a month was paid teachers, and 
very inferior instruction was given in a one-roomed house 
with more than fifty pupils of all ages and grades. Still 
the foundations laid with the "Blue Back" speller in those 
log schoolhouses with backless seats has caused many 
an ambitious youth and maiden to win excellence in other 
halls of learning. They have, therefore, done a work that 
will stand for all time. 

It was not the purpose of this chapter to give a com- 
plete account of the educational activities of the county, 
but merely to give some facts that will give the reader an 
idea of educational conditions from the earliest times to 
the outbreak of the War between the States in 1861. 
Since the close of that struggle, the system of public 
schools has been greatly improved until there is now not 
a corner of the county that is without excellent school 


Halifax County, and particularly Halifax town, was for 
a number of years the political centre of North Carolina. 
The ancient borough was in reality the Capital of the 
State during and soon after the Revolution. There, many 
of the officers of the Commonwealth lived much of the 
time, and there, most of the records of state were kept. 
Of course, when the seat of government was removed to 
Raleigh, everything pertaining to State affairs was trans- 
ferred to that place. Halifax, therefore, lost much of its 
influence. Even after that, however, the town was a cen- 
tre from which radiated social, literary, and economic 
forces that were felt in remote portions of the State. 

One of the most potent of these influences was that of 
the press. In those early days of newspaperdom, the 
weekly paper had more power among its readers than the 
metropolitan daily had at a much later date. Its columns 
were eagerly scanned by an interested constituency and 
its statements ordinarily went unchallenged. Without 
telegraphic dispatches, or quick mail facilities, the news- 
paper of the first half of the nineteenth century, especially 
in Halifax County, was an unpretentious institution, but 
comparatively of immense influence. 

The first mention of a newspaper in the county was in 
1784. James Iredell, who was afterwards United States 
Supreme Court judge, was on a visit that year to the 
home of Benjamin McCulloch, on Elk Marsh. In a letter 
to his wife on March 28th, 1784, he says: "They have 
begun to print a newspaper at Halifax, which is to be 
continued weekly." This was doubtless, a venture of 
Thomas Davis, who, at the time, enjoyed the distinction 
of being public printer. There is a letter in the State 


Records from Davis at Newbem to Governor Caswell ask- 
ing the assistance of the State in getting his press moved 
to Halifax. There is not a copy of this paper in existence, 
so far as is known, and it is not by any means certain 
as to how long it continued. 

July 23, 1793, the initial number of the North Carolina 
Journal was issued at Halifax, by Hodge and Wells. There 
is a file of this newspaper in possession of the North Caro- 
lina Historical Society, beginning with the issue of Janu- 
ary 7, 1805, and ending March 2, 1807, edited and printed 
by A. Hodge at $2,50 a year. The paper is eighteen inches 
long and eleven inches wide, four page, four columns to 
the page, without head rules, the paper and type being 
fairly good. It had the largest circulation in the State 
for many years, and probably discontinued its publication 
about 1810, at the time under the editorial management 
of Wright W. Batchelor. 

There is no mention of further newspaper ventures in 
Halifax until 1829, when the first issue of the Halifax 
Minerva made its appearance on January 24th of that 
year, edited and published by John Campbell. Its first 
number is a folio, eighteen inches long and twelve inches 
wide, and six columns to the page. In about one year, 
Edmund B. Freeman purchased an interest in the plant 
and became the editor, Campbell continuing to do the 
mechanical work. The name was changed to the Roanoke 
Advocate. There are four volumes of the Minerva and 
Advocate in the possession of one of the sons of John 

A feature of every number of these interesting papers 
is the method of advertising. In every issue is seen an 
advertisement for a runaway slave, accompanied by a 
picture of the fugitive with a bundle of clothes in his 
hand, or hanging from a stick across his shoulder. An- 
other striking advertisement was that of cock fighting, 
illustrating two of the feathered heroes in a death strug- 
gle, and announcing the mains at a certain time and 
place with the stakes, sometimes reaching the sum of 


one thousand dollars. Those were the days before cock- 
fighting was forbidden by statute. 

As the town of Halifax was the main distributing point 
for merchandise brought up the Roanoke by sailing ves- 
sels, and later by steamboats, from Norfolk and interme- 
diate points, each issue of these papers gave the names of 
all vessels arriving and departing from the port of Hali- 
fax since the previous issue. 

From these papers, the information is derived that Hali- 
fax County was, at that time, exporting flour and meat. 
Large cargoes of those articles were sent down the river 
to Norfolk at every sailing of a vessel. In addition to the 
trade by the Roanoke, a large contingent of wagons and 
carts carried wheat, tobacco, cotton, and other products 
overland to Petersburg and Richmond. Hogs and cattle 
were driven afoot and bartered for such merchandise as 
was needed by the people of the county. 

All public traveling was by means of stage coaches be- 
fore the coming of the railroad. From Halifax there was 
a tri-weekly fine to Raleigh, passing Enfield, Hilliardston, 
and Nashville, in Nash County. The trip was made in a 
day by leaving Halifax at 3 A. M. and arriving at Raleigh 
at 10 P. M. From Enfield, another line of stage coaches 
extended to Tarboro. There was also another from Hali- 
fax to Warrenton in one direction and across the Roanoke 
in another direction to Murf reesboro and Winton, branch- 
ing off to the left in Northampton County to Petersburg 
and Richmond. 

Not many accidents, or incidents even, are recorded of 
travel in those primitive days. Only one has been handed 
down as being serious enough to be remembered, and it 
occurred on the Raleigh line. In 1831, while crossing Cul- 
pepper bridge, the lead horse became frightened and un- 
manageable, and precipitated the vehicle, with its occu- 
pants, into Fishing Creek. One man was fatally injured 
in this wreck. 

Religiously, the people of the county were divided as now 
into the several denominations. The Baptists and Episco- 


palians were perhaps the first occupiers of the land. The 
former had established a church and built a house of wor- 
ship, the oldest in the county, on Kehukee Creek, a few 
miles southeast of the town of Scotland Neck in 1742. 
That old church was the scene of the schism in 1827, when 
the Baptist denomination was disrupted over the ques- 
tion of missions and secret societies. After the meeting 
of the Kehukee Association of that year at Kehukee 
Church, there were two distinct Baptist denominations in 
the State, the Primitive Baptists, sometimes called "Hard- 
shells," and the Missionary Baptists, who are now much 
the larger body. Other Baptist Churches were built a 
little later, in different parts of the County, among them 
Conocanara and Antioch being perhaps the best known. 

Among the earliest people, who settled on the Roanoke 
river and Fishing Creek, there were quite a number of 
Episcopalians. Rev. Thomas Burgess was the first minis- 
ter of that denomination to reside in the county. He was 
in charge of the Parish of Edgecombe, which became the 
County of Halifax, before the two counties were separated. 
At the session of the Colonial Assembly of 1760, the first 
after Halifax had become a county, a bill was introduced 
to confirm an agreement made between Burgess and the 
wardens and vestry of the Parish of Edgecombe. The 
bill set forth the fact that he had been employed under an 
act of the Assembly, which had since been repealed, to 
serve the parish during his natural life for 120 pounds a 
year, and prayed that the agreement be confirmed. 

Governor Dobbs stated, in a report to the Board of 
Trade, that there were only six preachers of the estab- 
lished Church (the Episcopal) in the province at that 
time, of whom two were worthless, calling them by name, 
and the other four, among whom was Burgess, were good 
and competent men. This indirect testimony of the Gov- 
ernor as to the sterling qualities of the first Episcopal 
minister in the county is fully confirmed by tradition. His 
remains lie buried in the old Conocanara churchyard. 

In Halifax, the church in which Burgess officiated is 


still standing. Although there are no records in exis- 
tence to show when it was built, there is strong presump- 
tion that it was erected a number of years before the out- 
break of the Revolution, probably about 1760. In Scot- 
land Neck, on the edge of old "Clarksville," is another 
ancient Church of the Episcopal faith. 

Soon after the formation of the county, another de- 
nomination, the Methodists, began to make its influence 
felt. John Wesley and George Whitefield had visited 
North Carolina some years before and planted the seeds 
of Methodism, which now began to flourish. Churches 
of that faith were built in various sections of the county, 
among the oldest being Ebenezer in the Aurelian Springs 
neighborhood, Haywoods near Halifax, Bradfords near 
Enfield, and the church in the town of Halifax. 

In these early days the Methodist Church took a high 
stand in the county. As was generally the case, the Meth- 
odist Circuit Rider followed closely in the track of civil- 
ization and in 1846 a church was organized in Weldon with 
seven members. These were Mrs. W. T. Whitfield, Mrs. 
Mary Allen, Capt. James Simmons, Mr. H. Wyatt and three 
others whose names are unknown. Capt. Simmons, the 
"Class Leader" for this little band, was Sheriff of the 
County and was a man of such sterling integrity he was 
elected without opposition as long as he would hold the 
office. A small wooden building was erected on the banks 
of the canal, in which to hold public services. This was 
roughly built and rudely furnished, but was the only 
church building in Weldon until 1874 when another and 
better one was built by the same congregation. 

People, in the early years of the nineteenth century, 
especially in Halifax County, were particularly free from 
the almost nerve racking complexities of the present. 
Mail facilities were extremely limited, and until 1840, 
when the first railroads in the county were built, if a com- 
munity received mail three times a week it was considered 
fortunate. Halifax was reached by a tri-weekly mail from 
Petersburg, and by one with the same frequency from 


Raleigh. The only postofRces that are known to have ex- 
isted as early as 1830 are Halifax, Enfield, Scotland Neck, 
Weldon, which was called Weldon's Place, Littleton, which 
was called Little's Ordinary, Brinkleyville, Palmyra, and 
Crowell's Cross Roads. 

In the General Assembly of 1826, an act was passed in- 
corporating the Roanoke Steamboat Company and author- 
izing the incorporators, Andrew Joyner and Cadwallader 
Jones, to build a steamboat to navigate the Roanoke river, 
the Albermarle sound, and the James river. Their plan to 
open a regular line of steamers from Halifax to Norfolk 
did not rapidly mature ; for it was not until April 15, 1829, 
that the first steamboat to navigate the Roanoke arrived 
at Halifax. This was the rude steamer, Petersburg, in com- 
mand of Captain McRae. After discharging freight at 
Halifax, it proceeded to Weldon Place and returned the 
next day, proceeding later to Norfolk. 

This was the first trip ever made on the Roanoke by a 
steamboat. Since that time, Weldon, Halifax, Scotland 
Neck, Palmyra, and other points on the river have been 
visited by steamers that connected the Roanoke farms 
with Norfolk. After the introduction of the railroads, 
however, the boat line on the river was gradually discon- 
tinued above Hamilton in Martin County until now it is a 
rare thing for a steamboat to visit Halifax. 



Tne early settlers who came to what is now Halifax 
County were either the enlarging or spreading out of 
the settlement of the first colonies of Virginia or adven- 
turous spirits exploring the Roanoke River from the 
sound to the falls, about one hundred miles, of a navi- 
gable though dangerous stream of water. 

This river, deep and turbulent, was impassable far- 
ther on account of the many rocks embedded in the 
stream and the tremendous falls over which the water 
swept, and the only means of passage was the small 
canoe or dugout then in general use. 

At the point where the town of Halifax was built, 
the river is broader and the banks not so steep, so the 
trail was opened into a highway of travel, a ferry 
across the river established and the nucleus of the town 

The river to which the Indian had given the name of 
"Roanoke" or "River of Death" has been found navi- 
gable from the lower settlements on the sound up to 
this point and was for many years the only means of 
commercial transportation of any kind. 

At certain seasons of the year, this river yielded an 
enormous supply of fish of the very finest quality, es- 
pecially the white shad and the striped bass, or rock- 
fish, which annually leave the sound and larger wa- 
ters to deposit their spawn amid the rocks in the falls 
of the Roanoke. So fishing hamlets were established 
on either side of the river to provide shelter for the 
fishermen when not engaged in their dangerous though 
profitable work. 

One of these villages was called Blakely, and was at 


a point about three miles below Weldon on the North- 
ampton side and was the head of navigation for any 
boat except the canoe or dugout. In the year 1832, a 
railroad was built out from Petersburg, Va., into North 
Carolina terminating at Blakely landing. The day of 
the opening of this road was celebrated with great re- 
joicing. The people came together for miles away and 
entered into the exercises with interest and enthusiasm. 
A dinner and speech making were then, as they often 
are now, features of the occasion. 

In 1834 another Railroad was built out from Norfolk, 
Va., into North Carolina with its terminus on the 
Northern side of the Roanoke just across from the 
landing at the point now called Weldon. The land on 
the South side of the river was the holding of a man of 
importance whose name was Daniel Weldon. At this 
time there were many prosperous and influential men 
in this community, owning and cultivating large farms 
of grain and fruit. These were the descendants of the 
pioneer settlers, James Bradley, William Gary, Joshua 
Jones, William Whitfield, Mark Petway, Samuel Wel- 
don, and many others. 

The cultivation of fruit was a popular industry and 
apple orchards were fine assets for these early settlers. 
Every man of importance cultivated orchards and made 
quantities of genuine apple brandy. The dangerous 
chemicals now used were then unknown and the pure 
apple brandy was the product of these distilleries which 
were owned and operated almost universally. And so 
what is now the town of Weldon was then known as 
Weldon's Orchard, or Weldon's Place and was the seat 
of one of these primitive industries which were con- 
sidered respectable and entirely moral. To illustrate 
this, it is said that Henry Sledge, a prosperous man of 
the county at this period and also a pious and devoted 
Christian gentleman, when told by his pastor that it 
was sinful to manufacture and use brandy, at once de- 
stroyed his large and profitable orchard, by cutting 


every tree to its roots, saying he would in this way re- 
move the temptation to evil. 

In the year 1835, Col. Andrew Joyner, who was elect- 
ed to the State Senate this year and was re-elected to 
the same position for sixteen years, was also elected 
President of the "Roanoke Navigation Co.," an organi- 
zation which had for its purpose the opening of a canal 
from a place called Rock Landing on the river, nine 
miles above Weldon, through which boats could pass 
and so avoid the rocks and falls in the river and find 
anchorage at Weldon's Orchard. A charter was pro- 
cured, the canal became a reality and the orchard be- 
came a junction of it and the two railroads, as well as 
the transportation facilities of the river below the falls. 

This canal was an important improvement at the 
time, as, in addition to the railroads mentioned, one had 
been built from Raleigh to Gaston in 1833, with its ter- 
minus at a landing on the river. A large basin was 
formed here and the boats from as far as Danville, Va., 
would bring the produce of the farms down the river 
to Gaston and then through this canal to Weldon. The 
Company which undertook this work did it thoroughly 
and well. There are three locks in the canal, the ma- 
sonry of which is very fine, as is that of the aqueduct 
over Chockoyette near Weldon, and has stood without 
repairs for three fourths of a century. A large basin was 
formed just above the falls, at Weldon where the canal 
empties into the river, for the purpose of moving the 
boats which operated on the canal line. 

A large brick warehouse was built near this basin, 
in which an immense amount of tobacco and other pro- 
duce were safely stored. This opening up of a new 
method of transportation was of great importance to 
the farmers along its line, as previous to this the only 
means of marketing the tobacco was to convey it for 
sixty miles or more in large hogsheads on wooden sleds 
drawn by horses to Petersburg, Va. 

Quite a group of buildings were erected as the out- 


come of this new enterprise. A man named Thomas H. 
Wyatt built a large storehouse with a small tavern or 
inn annexed on the corner of First and Sycamore 
Streets and these were the first of their kind on the 
ground. These stood until only a few years ago and 
were mementoes of these early days. A larger hotel 
was soon built by Mr. Michael Ferral and this was op- 
erated for a number of years. 

In the year 1833 a charter was granted to the Wil- 
mington & Raleigh Railroad. This was changed to 
Wilmington & Weldon, and in May, 1840, the first train 
of cars ran through from Wilmington to Weldon with 
William Hall as Conductor and G. G. Lynch as helper. Of 
these young men, Captain Hall died very early, but Mr. 
Lynch lived to a ripe old age. He was employed when 
quite a young man as route agent or mail inspector for 
the United States Government and was appointed to 
the same office by Thomas H. Reagan, Postmaster-Gen- 
eral in the Confederate Cabinet, which office he held 
until the close of the War. When the War between the 
States began, he held in his possession $250.00 in gold 
which belonged to the United States Government. 
Through all the terrible four years, he held this as a 
sacred trust and at the close .of the war returned the 
money to the Postoffice Department of the Government. 

In 1855, the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad was ex- 
tended from South Gaston to Weldon, thus making 
that village the centre from which radiated four im- 
portant lines of railways, one of them the W. & W. 
being for many years the longest in the world. The 
large shed, which has so often been associated with 
Weldon, was built that year from under which the pas- 
senger trains of the four roads left for their different 
destinations, upon the ringing of a signal bell. 

On the completion of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail- 
road to Weldon, a bridge was built across the river and 
a junction formed of this and the Seaboard and Roa- 
noke Railroad. The terminus of the road from Peters- 


burg was moved from Blakely to Weldon and a bridge 
built for that line also. This was a wooden bridge and 
was burnt in the year 1856, and not replaced until after 
the Civil War, when a new steel structure was erected 
on the old pillars about one mile below Weldon. This 
was in use until Nov. 26, 1877, when both bridges were 
washed away by the highest freshet ever known in the 
Ftoanoke River. The Petersburg bridge was never re- 
built, both roads using the Seaboard bridge. 

In the political campaign of 1844, Henry Clay, one 
of the Presidential candidates, came to Weldon on his 
way to Raleigh to speak in the interests of his party 
and to encourage and strengthen his constituents in the 
State. He was met and entertained at dinner at the 
Ferral hotel by Col. Joyner, the leading Whig of the 
section, who took him to spend the night at his home at 
Poplar Grove and accompanied him to Raleigh next 
day. The important issue discussed at this time was the 
annexation of Texas to the United States. Mr. Clay 
was supposed to favor this bill pending in Congress 
and his chances for election were considered good. In 
this speech, however, he strongly antagonized the bill 
and in the following election his opponent, James K. 
Polk, was elected. 

In the meantime Weldon's Orchard had become the 
town of Weldon. Another and a larger hotel was built 
and operated by W. T. Whitfield, who came to Weldon 
in 1834, stores and business houses were multiplied, 
and other enterprises engaged in. Among the promi- 
nent men of this period were Dr. William Lunsford 
Long, John ^J^ Cam pbeH, Hamlin and Elisha Allen, 
James Simmons, and i5. Isl. Peterson. 

A weekly newspaper of modest pretensions was 
launched and flourished for some time. This was called 
the Weldon Patriot and was founded by J. T. Gresham 
and afterwards edited by Thomas L. Suiter. Two large 
mills, one for wheat and the other for corn, were built 
near the falls of the canal and were supplied with grain 


from the neighboring farms, especially Mush Island, 
the fertile and prolific lands of Col. Nicholas Long, which 
at that time was called the Egypt of Halifax County. 

Col. Joyner, besides being President of the Roanoke 
Navigation Co., was President of the Seaboard & Roa- 
noke Railroad. For many years he was a member of 
the Senate of North Carolina and was promoter under 
the influence of Dorothy Dix of the Bill to establish a 
home at Raleigh for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind of the 
State. His wife, a lady of culture and refinement and 
wealth, was a veritable "Lady Bountiful," ministering 
to both the souls and bodies of men, and their home at 
Poplar Grove near what is now the City of Roanoke 
Rapids was a general dispensary for the neighborhood. 
Rev. Robert 0. Burton of the Virginia M. E. Confer- 
ence married a daughter of Col. Joyner and was often 
in charge of Roanoke Circuit, to which the Methodist 
church at Weldon belonged. 



One of the oldest and most famous institutions in the 
county is the Masonic Lodge at Halifax. Because of 
its historic importance a somewhat extended account 
is given of the rise, progress, and spirit of this lodge. 

The first meeting was held April 20, 1764, in the 
home of David London, Halifax town. Province of 
North Carolina. Halifax was then one of the most 
important and flourishing towns in the State. It was 
at the head of navigation and was the home of a great 
many prominent people and statesmen. Here was held 
the Provincial Congress and here was the first demon- 
stration after the one in Philadelphia celebrating the 
Declaration of Independence. Among its citizens was 
Joseph Montford, an Englishman of noble lineage and a 
Mason who was closely connected with this Lodge from 
his arrival in Halifax until his death. 

It seems that at that time there were two Masonic 
lodges, but it is evident from its size and the amount 
of its funds that this one had been in existence for 
some years. From 1764 to 1772 and again from 1783 
to the present time there is an unbroken record of 
these meetings. But it is a matter of regret that all 
records are missing from 1772 to 1783. It is believed 
that these records were carried home (for safekeep- 
ing during the Revolutionary period) by one of the 
members and they were lost to history. Diligent search 
continues to be made for them in the old homes in Eastern 
North Carolina. 

On May 20, 1768, an important meeting of this 
Lodge was held in which the Worshipful Master pro- 
duced a Charter from the Grand Master of England, to 


wit: "Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort, Grand Mas- 
ter of Masons in England, appointing Joseph Mont- 
ford, Master; Joseph Long, Senior Warden, and Nathen 
Brown, Jr., Warden — a regular constituted lodge of 
free and accepted Masons by the name of Royal Hart 
Lodge, town of Halifax, Province of N. C." This char- 
ter was dated London, March 21, A. L. 5767, the same 
being No. 403 in the list of English Lodges. 

It was unanimously and gratefully received and the 
Secretary was ordered to write a letter to the Grand 
Lodge of England returning thanks for the honor 
which the Grand Master had been pleased to confer on 

It is noticeable that the minutes of all their meetings 
were signed by the Worshipful Master, and the ut- 
most care was taken in their preparation. That these 
earnest men took masonry very seriously is evinced by 
the By-laws in which we read "To laugh in Lodge, fine 
five shillings. To whisper in Lodge, fine five shillings." 
In April, 1769, a meeting was held at which it was re- 
solved to build a Masonic Temple and the following is 
a part of the interesting minutes: — 

"Whereas we, the subscribers esteem it publicly bene- 
ficial to promote society, to laudably increase the means 
of obtaining benefit and happiness to those whom we 
are most nearly connected, and Whereas it is proposed 
and agreed to improve a lot in the town of Halifax, to 
wit: No. Ill so that the accommodation thereon may 
serve for various purposes, particularly that of a Ma- 
sonic Hall and Assembly room; — We therefore, obli- 
gate ourselves, our heirs, executors and Administra- 
tors respectively to pay or cause to be paid the sum an- 
nexed to our respective names and for the purpose of im- 
proving the said lot, etc." 

Joseph Montford — one bouse and lot (deed executed). 

Joseph O. Long, ten pounds 

Frederick Schulzer, ten pounds 


John Thompson ten pounds 

Alexander Telfair, ten pounds 

James Milner, ten pounds 

Charles Preston, five pounds 

William Martin, five pounds 

F. Stewart, ten pounds 

David Stokes, five pounds 

James Auld, three pounds 

Peter Thompson, five pounds 

Joseph Campbell, five pounds 

The house and lot donated by Joseph Montford at that 
date was worth $1,500.00, making the whole amount 

This was indeed an enormous amount for these poor 
colonists, but it showed their intense devotion to the 
cause of Masonry. It is a noticeable fact that "Paid" 
was written after each amount promised. 

This temple was built and was a very imposing and 
rather elegant building for that day and time. It was 
situated in a large oak grove facing the public road. It 
was 30 X 30 feet, two stories. The lodge room was on 
the second floor, and the lower story was used for a pub- 
lic school — although the last day of school in this build- 
ing was in 1829. 

A description of the temple written in 1820 is inter- 
esting. "The roof was slate color, the building was white 
with green blinds, mahogany doors, red brick founda- 
tion and chimney. The ceiling which is arched, is blue 
and the interior woodwork is white." 

The beautiful silver candlesticks still used by this 
Lodge were purchased Feb. 26, 1784, and cost 11 pounds- 
The unique and handsome chair (with its approaching 
steps) was bought May 20, 1765. It is supposed these 
came from England. Visiting Masons say that the bal- 
lot-box is the finest they have ever seen tho' it is not so 
old as the other pieces, having been bought April 1, 1820. 

On March 10, 1772, Joseph Montford presented the 


lodge with a beautiful Masonic chart, painted on heavy 
cloth and to this day it is in a fine state of preservation. 
A few^ days later — March 13, 1772, a meeting of special 
interest was held — The following quotation is from the 
records : "Bro. Joseph Montford produced a charter from 
the Grand Master of England — the Duke of Beaufort — 
appointing him Provincial Grand Master of and for 
America — which was recognized, and for which he was 
congratulated by the lodge and offered the chair, which 
he declined." 

For the third time we see this notable figure in this 
grand old lodge. First, with the charter from the Grand 
Lodge of England ; second, generously giving to the Roy- 
al White Hart Lodge a house and lot towards the erec- 
tion of a Masonic Temple; and now presenting his ap- 
pointment as Provincial Grand Master of America — and 
in his modesty declining even a seat in the East. Thus 
we see that a history however brief it may be cannot be 
written without the name of the most prominent Mason 
in America at that time, viz: — the Hon. Joseph Mont- 

He was also the first Clerk of the Court for Halifax 
County, Treasurer of the Province of North Carolina, 
Colonel of Colonial Troops and delegate to the Provin- 
cial Congress, not mentioning the father of two brilliant 
and beautiful daughters who became the wives of two 
of North Carolina's most distinguished statesmen, viz : — 
The Bon. Willie Jones and the Hon. John Baptista Ashe. 

It is true that that Grand Lodge of England, which 
was organized in 1717, had, before this time, appoint- 
ed other Provincial Grand Masters in America — but 
their authority was limited to their Province or territory, 
and they in turn were subject to the Provincial Grand 
Master for Foreign Lodges at London, who was the ap- 
pointee of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of 
England. But the authority vested in Joseph Montford 
was absolute and supreme in all parts of America, and 
he established lodges and chapters at his will and pleas- 


ure, thereby attaining the highest masonic position ever 
held by any man on this continent. There are several 
reasons why he was selected to this high honor: his so- 
cial and political prominence, the exactness and faithful- 
ness that characterized everything that he attempted, 
his prompt and regular remittances to the Grand Lodge 
of England, and his idea of building a Masonic Temple 
which (at that time) was absolutely new in both Eng- 
land and America. This especially made a deep im- 
pression upon the Grand Lodge of England, and it un- 
doubtedly inspired them to build "Free Mason's Hall" in 
London, for they began immediately to raise funds for 
this purpose and four years later this magnificent struc- 
ture was completed. The contribution of "10 pounds 10 
shillings from Joseph Montford — R. W. H. Lodge Hali- 
fax — Province N. C.," was the largest amount subscribed. 

Benjamin Franklin and his associates erected Free 
Masons' Lodge in Philadelphia about this time, which 
was the first Masonic Temple in this country and also in 
the world, and the temple in Halifax (now standing in 
its somber dignity) was the second. 

Up to this time it was customary for Masons to meet 
in Taverns or homes. Even the Grand Lodge of England 
was holding its meetings at the "Crown and Anchor in 
the Strand" (London), and the Royal White Hart Lodge 
met at "Bro. Martin's Tavern at the sign of the Thistle." 

After 1790 the Lodge became very prosperous. The 
members paid $5.00 per pair for gloves, $10.00 a plate 
for banquets and gave $25.00 a month as pensions to 
needy widows. Surely they never dreamed of the 
abandonment of the river traflfic, the decline of the town 
and lodge and the decay of their beloved temple. It is 
the cherished hope of the Masons to restore the temple 
as it was in the heyday of its glory. 

Joseph Montford died March, 1776, in the early stage 
of the Revolutionary War, and was buried in the old Co- 
lonial churchyard where he had so often marshaled his 
lodge in a body for worship. We notice that the word 


"Hart" is spelled in the old Records Heart until the ar- 
rival of the charter from England. In this charter this 
word is spelled "Hart" and from that time, all records 
conform to this spelling. 

There are many amusing instances recorded in the old 
records. At one of the early meetings a Committee of 
one was appointed to furnish "1 gal. of brandy, 1 gal. 
of rum, 1 gal. of gin, 1 cheese, 1 baked ham and some 
crackers the same to be charged to the candidate for the 
night." Surely these brothers were in a hilarious (or 
sad) state of mind before the night ended. Tho' it is 
recorded that the members of this lodge were deeply re- 
ligious, "observing feast days regularly and attending 
church on Sundays in a body." Copies of the sermons 
preached to them were carefully preserved. Marshall 
Delancy Hayward in his splendid work, "The Beginning 
of Free Masonry in North Carolina and Tennessee," 
records the lives of the members of this Grand Lodge 
and the great service they rendered the American cause 
during the Revolutionary War. It was the custom of 
Joseph Montford on the feast days of St. John to as- 
semble his lodge in the temple at five o'clock before sun- 
rise. He would open the Lodge until he came to the 
"Master's Station" v/hen the opening stopped and a 
brother who was stationed at the East window would 
signal the first appearance of the Orb of Day — and at 
that instant rose also the only Provincial Grand Master 
that America ever had — to open and govern the only 
Provincial Grand Lodge that ever existed in America. 
The oldest Lodge in this country is St. Johns No. 1 Bos- 
ton. The second oldest is Solomon's No. 1 at~Sft^?armiah, 

The charters issued by the Provincial Grand Lodge of 
America are the most beautiful and expensive Masonic 
Documents on this Continent. One of the finest speci- / -^ 
mens of this work is the charter issued to St. John Lodge 
in Newbern. It is as perfect as when it was proudly 
received by the Lodge 136 years ago. The second char- / 

... • "--/ 


ter of Koyal White ilnrt Lodirv^ under which it works 
today was issued by the C^rand Lodge of North Caro- 
lina. Dtv, 27. ISOO. Koyal White Hart Lod^re retained 
itii Kuirlish alle>rianee thirteen years after its sister 
lodges were working under the errand Lodge of Nortl\ 
Carolina, btvause it paid ten pounds for a charter giv- 
ing it No. 1. After the Crand Lodge received the money, 
they changed their mind and wrote out another charter 
giving it No. '2. For years there was much bitter feel- 
ing in regard to this matter, but the lodge is well 
launched on its second century of faithful allegiance to 
the Crand Lodge of North Carolina, but this is men- 
tioned merely as historic truth. It was incorporated in 



For thirty yf^arn pn-jj-Ainic thf; outbr^^ak of tho Civil 
War, Halifax County had more influence in national af- 
fai rH than any other county in North Carolina. The only 
time the county ever had a Unit/^d Stat^iH Kenator and 
a member of the PreHident'B cabinet w^as during that 
period. .John branch, of Pinfield, was elected senator in 
182.'i and re-elected in 1829. He, however, resigned the 
latU^r year t^j accept the position of Secretary of the 
Navy in President .Jacknon's Cabinet. Tv/o years later, 
he resigned that position, also, because of the disruption 
of the cabinet on account of some social disagreements 
of the wives of the members. 

Branch returned to Enfield in 18'il, and was the next 
year elecUid to Congress. He served only one term when 
he was succeeded by Jesse A. Bynum, of Halifax, who 
continued in office until 1841, when he in turn was suc- 
ceeded by another Halifax County man, John R. J. 
Daniel. Halifax County was, at the time, in the Sixth 
Congressional District, the other counties being Wake, 
Franklin, Warren, Edgecombe, Nash and Johnston. 
Daniel had been Attorney-General of the State, but was 
now elevated to a seat in Congress, where que.stions of 
great national importance were being discussed. 

Not only in national affairs did the county wield in- 
fluence during this period, but the affairs of State felt 
its energizing effect also. Spier Whitaker, of Enfield, was 
elected Attorney-General in 1842, holding that respon- 
sible position until 1847. Jjartholornev/ I'\ Moore was 
chosen to the same post in 1848, and removed from his 
home in Halifax to Raleigh the same year. Joseph J. 
Daniel, of Halifax, was elevated from the Superior 


Court to the Supreme Bench in 1832 and held the posi- 
tion until his death in 1848. During this period, there- 
fore, the county was well represented in the councils of 
both State and nation. 

.Between 1840 and 1860, the county, along with the 
State and nation, passed through a crucial period lead- 
ing up to the great climax of 1861. The question of 
slavery was to the fore, and the people of Halifax Coun- 
ty were watching the trend of sentiment in the north with 
no little degree of uneasiness. The National Congress had 
been drawn into the discussion, first by the proposition to 
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, second by the 
annexation of territory, and also by the passage of the 
Fugitive Slave Act. Some of the most brilliant men in the 
United States were arrayed on one side or the other of 
this absorbing question. 

In 1840, according to the Federal Census taken that 
year, the county had a population of 24,325, of whom 
16,865 were negro slaves. It is strange to note that when 
the census of 1850 was taken, the population had de- 
creased to 16,584, nearly the whole of the decrease being 
in the slave population, which dropped to 8954, nearly 
fifty per cent. No reason is assigned for this remarkable 
decrease. There is no record of any unusual sale of ne- 
groes to the States farther South, nor any plague to re- 
duce the number by death. Probably the most plausible 
conclusion is that a mistake was made by the census 
enumerators either in 1840 or 1850. The census of 1860 
showed an increase over that of 1850 of about 3000. 

From 1846 to 1848, the United States was at war with 
Mexico. In North Carolina and Halifax County, the war 
was unpopular because it was considered an unworthy at- 
tempt on the part of our Government to bully a weak 
neighbor. The State raised and equipped two regiments 
for the war, one commanded by Colonel Robert Treat 
Paine, of Elizabeth City, and the other by Colonel L. B. 
Wilson, of Tarboro. Halifax County furnished no sol- 
diers for either regiment. The result of the war brought 


new problems in the way of new territory to increase the 
tension over the slavery question. 

Some ten years before that time, the country v/as 
thrown into violent excitement over the Nat Turner in- 
surrection in Southampton County, Va. Turner was a 
slave, who incited the negroes of his neighborhood to rise 
against their masters, and, with himself at their head, 
they slaughtered a number of men, women, and children 
before the rebellion could be checked. Turner was final- 
ly overpowered, captured with a number of his deluded 
followers, given a trial, and hanged. 

During that period of excitement, the people of Halifax 
County were in a state of wild suspense. It was not 
knov/n how far the conspiracy among the slaves extend- 
ed, and many rumors of similar risings in the county were 
current. None of these rumors, however, had foundation ; 
and when the Southampton insurrection collapsed, there 
was no further fear. 

Another insurrection that produced intense distrust 
and alarm was the John Brown raid in 1859. Halifax 
County was a unit in condemnation of such efforts on the 
part of the abolitionists. There were, it is true, in the 
county many who believed in a gradual emancipation of 
the negro race from bondage ; but such acts as the John 
Brown raid and the Nat Turner insurrection solidified 
sentiment against the agitators. After Brown and his fol- 
lowers were captured at Harpers Ferry, Va., given a 
trial, convicted, and hanged, sentiment in the county was 
well nigh unanimous that the abolitionists of the North, 
by their agitation and indiscreet utterances about the 
slavery question, had brought the country to the verge of 



Before following in the wake of the part Halifax County 
took in the tremendous cataclysm of the War between the 
States, a retrospective view of the part taken by her sons 
in the State's legislative halls will be interesting. From 
the first, the county sent to the General Assembly some of 
her best men. Among them are many names that are 
familiar and honorable in the county. Some of them 
reached great prominence in State and Nation. The fol- 
lowing list is of interest to every native of Halifax Coun- 
ty. They were the representatives from the adoption of 
the Constitution in 1776 to the outbreak of the war in 

Halifax Town. 
Year House of Commons 

1777 Willie Jones 

1778 Willie Jones 

1779 Henry Montford 

1780 Henry Montford 

1781 Henry Montford 

1782 Henry Montford 

1783 Henry Montford 

1784 Henry Montford 

1785 Charles Pasteur 

1786 Wm. R. Davie 

1787 Wm. R. Davie 

1788 Goodrum Davis 

1789 Wm. R. Davie 

1790 Wm. R. Davie 

1791 Wm. R. Davie 

1792 Richard H. Long 

1793 Wm. R. Davie 

1794 Wm. R. Davie 

1795 John B. Ashe 

1796 Wm. R. Davie 

1797 Thaddeus Barnes 

1798 Wm. R. Davie 

1799 Richard H. Long 

1800 Richard H. Long 

1801 Isaac Hilliard 

1802 Basset Stith 

1803 William Drew 

1804 Thomas Hall 

1805 Allen Gilchrist 


House of Commons 


Allen J. Davie 


Joseph J. Daniel 


William P. Hall 


William Drew 


Holcott J. Pride 


Jeptha Dupree 


Peter Brown 


William Drew 


William Drew 


Joseph J. Daniel 


William Drew 


Hutchings G. Burton 


Thomas Burgess 


Robert A. Jones 


Thomas Burgess 


Thomas Burgess 


Jesse A. Bynum 


Jesse A. Bynum 


Robert Potter 


Jesse A. Bynum 


Jesse A. Bynum 


Wm. L. Long 


Wm. L. Long 


Wm. L. Long 


Wm. L. Long 


Wm. L. Long 


Thomas Ousby 


Robert C. Bond 


By the Constitution of 1835, borough towns were abol- 
ished. Halifax town was, therefore, no longer entitled to 
a representative in the General Assembly. It will be ob- 
served that a considerable number of these men, who rep- 
resented the town in the legislative body of the State, had 
already achieved a State and national reputation. Willie 
Jones was a national figure, though he held few positions 
of trust under the Federal government. William R. Davie, 
John B. Ashe, and Jesse A. Bynum, at different times, 
held positions of trust at the National Capitol. Hutchings 
G. Burton was afterwards Governor of the State. Wil- 
liam Drew was Attorney-General for nine years. Joseph J. 
Daniel was afterwards on the Supreme Court bench for 
sixteen years. 

In the list of members in the General Assembly for 
Halifax town, from which the above is taken, there is a 
note at the year 1825, which gives the following informa- 
tion : "No member was elected this year in consequence 
of the election having been broken up by a brawl between 
the contending candidates. Potter and Bynum, and their 
friends." It is known that Jesse A. Bynum and Robert 
Potter were on unfriendly terms because Bynum refused 
to introduce Potter to a certain lady. In 1825, they were 
contending candidates, and so bitter were the passions 
aroused between the candidates and their friends that on 
election day a fight ensued, in which one man was killed 
and a number bruised and disfigured. As all the election 
judges and poll holders participated in the fight, on one 
side or the other, no election could be held, and the town, 
therefore, had no representative that year. 

Halifax County. 

Year Senate House of Commons 

1777 John Bradford Jos. John Williams, Egbert Haywood 

1778 Orondates Davis Egbert Haywood, John Whitaker 

1779 Orondates Davis Willie Jones, Augustine Willis 

1780 Orondates Davis Willie Jones, William Weldon 

1781 Orondates Davis John Branch, Benjamin McCulloch 

1782 Willie Jones John Branch, Benjamin McCulloch 






















































Benjamin McCulloch 
Nicholas Long 
Nicholas Long 
Benjamin McCulloch 
Nicholas Long 
Willie Jones 
John B. Ashe 
Peter Quarles 
Peter Quarles 
Peter Quarles 
Peter Quarles 
Willis Alston 
Willis Alston 
Willis Alston 
Stephen W. Carney 
Stephen W. Carney- 
Stephen W. Carney 
Stephen W. Carney 
Stephen W. Carney 
Stephen W. Carney 
Joseph John Alston 
John Alston 
Gideon Alston 
Gideon Alston 
Matthew C. Whitaker 
Matthew C. Whitaker 
Matthew C. Whitaker 
Matthew C. Whitaker 

John Branch 

Matthew C. Whitaker 

John Branch 

John Branch 

John Branch 

John Branch 

John Branch 

John Alston 

John Alston 

John Alston 

John Alston 

John Branch 

Thomas Burgess 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

Isham Matthews 

House of Commons 
John Whitaker, John Geddy 
Benjamin McCulloch, John B Ashe 
John Whitaker, John B. Ashe 
John B. Ashe, Augustine Willis 
John Dawson, John Branch 
John Jones, John Branch 
Peter Quarles, Marmaduke Norfleet 
John Dawson, Willis Alston 
Wilhs Alston. Thomas Tabb 
Willis Alston, Eaton Pugh 
Stephen W. Carney, James A. Tabb 
Eaton Pugh, John A. Tabb 
Eaton Pugh, Stephen W. Carney 
John A. Tabb, Eaton Pugh 
Wood J. Hamblin, James A. Tabb 
Sterling HarweU, M. C. Whitaker 
Sterling Harwell, Wood J. Hamblin 
ll^iy n- Whitaker, Sterling Harwell 
Mat w C. Whitaker, Sterling HarAvell 
li^l'^ n St?^^^^^' Sterling Harwell 
w-n"^ ^-Whitaker, Sterling Harwell 
William Williams, M. C Whitaker 
William Williams, M. C Whitaker 
Wi ham Williams, M. C Whitaker 
William Williams, Daniel Mason 
William Williams, Lewis Daniel 
VVm. E. Webb, Joseph Bryant 
Wm. E. Webb, Benjamin Edmonds 
Wm. E. Webb, J. J. Daniel 
Wm. E. Webb, J. J. Daniel 
James Barnes, W. J. Hamblin 
J. Grant, R. Jones 
Richard Jones, Wilson W. Carter 
Richard Jones, Jesse A. Dawson 
Richard Jones, Jesse A. Dawson 
Jesse A. Dawson, Neville Gee 
Richard Jones, Willis Alston 
Wi IS Alston, Jesse A. Dawson 
Uilhs Alston, Jesse A. Dawson 
f^.M,^''*.4- Jones, Isham Matthews 
Wi hs Alston, Robert A. Jones 
VVilhs Alston, R. B. Daniel 
Geo. E. Spruill, R. B. Daniel 
Geo. E. Spruill, Anthony A. Wyche 
Geo. E. Spruill, Wm. E. Shine 
Geo. E. Spruill, Rice B. Pierce 
Jesse A. Bynum, Thomas Nicholson 
Jesse A. Bynum, Thomas Nicholson 
Thomas Nicholson, John R. J. Daniel 
Charles Gee, John R. J. Daniel 




Year Senate House of Commons 

1833 Isham Matthews Wm. M. West, John R. J. Daniel 

1834 John Branch Wm. L. Long, John R. J. Daniel 

1835 Andrew Joyner Sterling H. Gee, Wm. M. West 

1836 Andrew Joyner I. Matthews, S. H. Gee, B. F, Moore 
1838 Andrew Joyner W. W. Daniel, M. A. Wilcox, S. Wh't'kr 
1840 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. A. Pope, B. F. Moore 
1842 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. A. Pope, B. F. Moore 
1844 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. F. Moore 

1846 Andrew Joyner L. M. Long, M. C. Whitaker 

1848 Andrew Joyner Wm. L. Long, Richard H. Smith 

1850 Andrew Joyner W. B. Pope, Dudley C. Clanton 

1852 Andrew Joyner Richard H. Smith, James D. Perkins 

1854 M. L. Wiggins Richard H. Smith, James D. Perkins 

1856 M. L. Wiggins William Hill, John W. Johnson 

1858 Matthew C. Whitaker William Hill, William L. Long 

1860 Matthew C. Whitaker Archibald H. Davis, W. B. Pope 

Many of these men took high rank in the affairs of the 
State and the United States. Orondates Davis, in 1780, 
was chosen to serve on the Board of War for North Caro- 
lina. The other members were Alexander Martin, who 
afterwards became governor, and John Penn, one of the 
signers of the Declaration of Independence. Willis Alston 
was a member of Congress from 1799 to 1815 and again 
from 1826 to 1831. John Branch was a member of Con- 
gress for a long time, both in the Senate and the lower 
house. Governor of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy 
in President Jackson's cabinet, and later Governor of the 
Territory of Florida. John R. J. Daniel was Attorney- 
General of the State and later member of Congress for 
twelve years. Spier Whitaker, and B. F. Moore were, at 
different times, Attorney-General of North Carolina. Per- 
haps no county can show an abler list of representatives 
in the General Assembly of North Carolina. 



The year 1860 was ominous. Mutterings of the coming 
storm were clear and distinct. National politics had be- 
come a national problem. The Whigs had disbanded. The 
Democrats were divided into factions. The Abolitionists 
had united with the disorganized elements of Whigs, 
Know-Nothings, Free-Soilers, and other political frag- 
ments until there was now in the northern states a com- 
pact, well organized party, determined to destroy the in- 
stitution lof slavery at any cost. 

Early in the year the political pot began to boil. John 
C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was nominated for Presi- 
dent by one faction of the Demiocratic party, and Stephen 
A. Douglas, of Illinois, was nominated by the other. The 
Abolitionists, novv^ called Republicans, nominated Abra- 
ham Lincoln, of Illinois. The campaign was bitter and 
personal. Lincoln was elected by a big majority in the 
electoral college, but by a distinct minority vote. He re- 
ceived not a single vote in Halifax County. 

As soon as it was known that Lincoln had been elected, 
the Legislature of South Carolina called a convention to 
consider the proposition of seceding from the union. The 
convention met, and, on December 20th, unanimously 
passed the ordinance of secession. The example of South 
Carolina was rapidly followed by Alabama, Mississippi, 
Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Early in Febru- 
ary, the seven States met in convention at Montgomery, 
Ala., and elected Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, Presi- 
dent of the Southern Confederacy, and Alexander H. 
Stephens of Georgia, Vice-President. 

North Carolina had as yet taken no official step in these 
rapidly happening events. Near the beginning of Febru- 


ary, however, the General Assembly passed an act sub- 
mitting the question of calling a convention to the people. 
The election, for or against calling a convention and for 
electing delegates, was held February 28th, and, by a sub- 
stantial majority, the call for the convention was defeat- 
ed. The vote in Halifax County was significant. For the 
convention the county registered a vote of 1,049, and 
against the convention 39. The county, however, selected 
two union men as representatives. The State, as a whole, 
elected an overwhelming majority of union men, and if 
the convention had met before the capture of Fort Sum- 
ter, North Carolina would probably have remained in the 

An evil time was just ahead. Lincoln was inaugurated 
on March 4th, 1861, and declared, in his inaugural ad- 
dress, his purpose to collect custom duties at all southern 
ports. That declaration, 'of course, meant war. He, at 
once, dispatched reinforcements to Fort Sumter in 
Charleston harbor. The Confederate forces there fired 
upon the Federal ships and demanded the surrender of 
Fort Sumter. Upon the demand being refused, the bom- 
bardment of Sumter began ; and, on April 12th, the fort 
was surrendered. 

Immediately a thrill shot through the nation. President 
Lincoln called for 75,000 volunters to put down the "re- 
bellion" in the South. Governor Ellis refused to send 
North Carolina's quota in response to this call, and thus 
placed the State in direct conflict with the United States 
Grovernment, The General Assembly was, at once, called 
in extra session, Halifax County's representatives that 
year were Matthew C, Whitaker in the Senate and Archi- 
bald H, Davis and W. B. Pope in the house. With other 
representatives, they voted to call a convention to meet in 
Raleigh, May 20th, 1861, The call was submitted to the 
people and carried almost unanimously. Halifax County 
sent Richard H, Smith, of Scotland Neck, and Dr. Charles 
J. Gee, of Weldon, as her representatives. 

When the convention met -on May 20, there was no other 


thought than secession. A majority of the delegates were 
union men, but in the crisis that had come there could be 
no other solution than secession and war. The vote was 
taken on May 20, almost in silence. The two representa- 
tives from Halifax, along with the others, recorded their 
votes in favor of severing the political bonds that bound 
the states together. The vote for secession was unani- 

Fior more than a month before the convention met, the 
feeling in the State was general that war was inevitable. 
In fact. Governor Ellis, anticipating the action of the con- 
vention, had authorized the mobilizing of the militia. 
Thousands of men volunteered within three days after the 
fall of Fort Sumter, and even before the State authori- 
ties were ready for them. 

Among the first companies in the State to volunteer 
was the "Enfield Blues," a company composed of 109 men 
rank and file. The officers of the company were D. B. Bell, 
Captain ; M. T. Whitaker, First Lieutenant ; F. M. Parker, 
Second Lieutenant; Carey W. Whitaker, Junior Second 
Lieutenant. At Raleigh on April 17, 1861, along with 
other companies from various points in the State, the 
"Enfield Blues" were enrolled in what was afterwards 
known as the Bethel Regiment under the command of 
Colonel D. H. Hill. 

After remaining in camp at Raleigh for a few weeks, 
the regiment was ordered to Virginia, and, passing 
through Richmond, marched up Main Street, receiving 
an ovation fVom the populace. As this regiment was the 
first from the State and the Enfield Blues the first com- 
pany from Halifax County, it will not be improper, before 
mentioning other companies and other Halifax County 
men, to follow briefly the military fortunes of this her<oic 
body of men, who risked life, fortune, and honor in a 
cause they thought right. 

From Richmond, the regiment was ordered to join Gen- 
eral Magruder, who was stationed near Yorktown, Va., 
and who was directed to check the advance of the Feder- 


als from Fort Monroe. Hill was ordered to take position 
at Bethel Church, where, on June 10, he was attacked by 
a superior force under the command of General Pierce. In 
the battle which followed, the Enfield Blues, under the 
command of Lieutenant Parker, was stationed on the 
right wing and did splendid service. They aided in re- 
pelling the attacks of the enemy and in driving him from 
the field. Not a man of the company received a scratch 
in this remarkable conflict, in which about one hundred 
of the Federals were killed or wounded and only one, on 
the side of the South, killed and a few slightly wounded. 

After the Battle of Bethel, the regiment was disrupted 
and the elements distributed through other commands. 
Captain Bell resigned August 31, 1861, and Lieutenant F. 
M. Parker succeeded him, Carey W. Whitaker succeeding 
to the position of Second Lieutenant and Carr B. Corbett 
becoming Junior Lieutenant. On October 16, same year, 
Captain Parker was elected Colonel of the Thirtieth Regi- 
ment, and, therefore, severed his connection with the En- 
field Blues. Lieutenant M. T. Whitaker became Captain 
upon the resignation of Colonel Parker. Another m.ember 
of the company. Spier Whitaker, was later made adju- 
tant of the Thirty-third Regiment. 

Through the vicissitudes of war the company passed, 
losing in battle and by disease, recruiting and diminish- 
ing, until at the last sad drama, at Appomattox, only three 
of the original company, that fought at Bethel, were left, 
John Beavens, J. S. Whitaker and Spier Whitaker. Dur- 
ing the years between Bethel and Appomattox, many a 
deed of heroism and many a noble sacrifice were made; 
but history cannot throw a bouquet nor record a tear. 


During the spring and summer of 1861, North Carolina 
equipped and sent to the battle front in Virginia and 
Tennessee more than fifty thousand men. Regiments were 
organized at various points in the State, and camps of in- 
struction in the school of the soldier were busy centers of 
military life. 

Halifax County was not behind in furnishing the flow- 
er of her soldiery in this crisis. Immediately following 
the -organization of the Bethel regiment, the First Regi- 
ment of volunteers was mustered in at the Race Track 
near Warrenton. Montford F. Stokes was elected Colonel ; 
Matt W. Ransom, Lieutenant-Colonel, and John A. Mc- 
Dowell, Major. Halifax County sent one company of 157 
men ; and during the service of the company through the 
period of the war, the following officers served in turn : 
Captains, S. H. Gee, W. H. Day ; First Lieutenants, A. L. 
Pierce, C. Branch; Second Lieutenants W. B. Williams 
John Wynn, D. E. Stokes, R. J. Day. 

Upon its organization, the regiment was ordered to 
Richmond, and became a real fighting force in the Army 
of Northern Virginia. It was assigned to Holmes' brigade 
and received its first baptism of fire in the Seven Days 
Battle, where about one-half of the entire regiment were 
either killed or wounded. All the regimental officers were 
shot down and the surviving men continued the pursuit 
of the enemy without officers or orders. Colonel W. R. 
Cox, at the time in command of the Second Regiment, was 
ordered to take command also of the First. The pursuit 
was continued to Malvern Hill, where the Federals made a 
desperate stand and checked the Confederate drive. In 
the last charge of Lee's lines upon the union works at 


Malvern Hill, the First Regiment performed heroic and 
herculean tasks, and its dead were afterwards found near- 
est the enemy's defences. 

Later that year, the regiment participated in the Battle 
of Antietam, where it lost, in killed and wounded, about 
one-half of its total number. The next year it underwent 
another baptism of fire at Chancellorsville, and again at 
Gettysburg and Winchester. Continuing its career of 
martial glory, the first regiment met the enemy at the 
Wilderness, Spottslyvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg ; 
and furled its banners at Appomattox. 

It is beyond the compass of this work to give a narra- 
tive of the exploits of all the volunteer companies from 
Halifax County in the War between the States. It would 
require a much more extended volume than the one now 
being prepared. Hardly more than a mere mention can 
be made of them, together with a few references to the 
services rendered. 

The Twelfth Regiment was organized in the summer 
of 1861, and Company E, Halifax Light Infantry, became 
an integral part of it. James H. Whitaker was chosen 
Captain; J. H. Brickell, First Lieutenant; and John 
Formey, Second Lieutenant. Along with many another 
this regiment was sent to Virginia to assist in holding 
the Confederate lines around Richmond. The Fourteenth 
Regiment was organi-zed soon afterwards with Junius 
Daniel, a gallant son of Halifax County, as Colonel. Dan- 
iel rose to the rank of brigadier-general, and was killed, 
at Spottsylvania, while brilliantly leading his brigade. 

In July, 1861, the Twenty-fourth Regiment of volun- 
teers was organized at Weldon. Company D, David C. 
Clarke, Captain, Halifax County troops, was enrolled 
in this splendid body of men. It participated in the 
battles around Richmond, at Fredericksburg, and Pe- 
tersburg. It formed a part of General Ransom's Com- 
mand, sent into Northampton County in June, 1863, 
to repel a Federal raid from the Chowan river to- 
ward Weldon, having for its object the burning of the 


railroad bridge across the Roanoke river. Ransom met 
the enemy at Boone's Mill and inflicted upon him such a 
defeat that he fled precipitately to the shelter of his 
gunboats below Winton. The next year, Company D was 
a part of Ransom's brigade that made the memorable 
charge in the capture of Plymouth. 

Later, in the summer of 1861, the Forty-First Regiment 
was organized with the Scotland Neck Mounted Rifle- 
men as one of its best fighting units. At the head of this 
well equipped and well disciplined company were Ather- 
ton B. Hill, Captain ; Benjamin G. Smith, First Lieuten- 
ant ; Norfleet Smith, Second Lieutenant. It became a part 
of the cavalry division of the Army of Northern Virginia. 

In March, 1862, the Forty-Third Regiment was organ- 
ized at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh. Junius Daniel, who 
was at the time Colonel of the Fourteenth Regiment, was 
elected to command this valiant body of troops. Daniel 
was much in demand at the time and had been chosen to 
head the Forty-Fifth Regiment, which was mobilized 
about the same time. He accepted the latter position, 
and was shortly afterwards promoted to the rank of 

Halifax County furnished two companies for this regi- 
ment, Companies D and F, the former commanded by 
Cary Whitaker, Captain ; Thomas W. Baker, First Lieu- 
tenant; John S. Whitaker, Second Lieutenant. Dur- 
ing the period of enlistment, William Beavans and 
George W. Willis also served in the position of Sec- 
ond Lieutenant. Company F was officered as follows: 
William R. Williams, Captain ; William C. Ousby, First 
Lieutenant; Henry A. Mason, Second Lieutenant. The 
foregoing were promoted during the progress of the war 
to the position of captain, and William R. Bond, J. H. 
Morris, W. L. M. Perkins, and Jesse A. Macon served in 
turn in the position of Second Lieutenant. 

The Forty-Third Regiment saw active service at Kins- 
ton, Newbern, and Plymouth in this State, and at Gettys- 
burg, Drury's Bluff in Virginia, and in the famous Val- 

■i ■■^•^ - '-^-t -. 



ley campaign under General Early. In all of these strug- 
gles, the Halifax County men acquitted themselves hero- 
ically. When General Pickett was given the command 
against Newbern in January, 1864, the PVjrty-Third was 
assigned to his division, and was in the attacking force 
that met defeat on that occasion. In April, the same year, 
it was with General Hoke in his successful assault upon 

When the Junior Reserves were mustered into the Seven- 
tieth Regiment in the summer of 1864, Halifax County 
furnished one of the regimental officers, perhaps the 
youngest officer in the southern army, Walter Clark, who 
has since become distinguished in State and Nation. He 
was elected Lieutenant-Colonel, but shortly after- 
wards, upon a reorganization of the regiment to meet the 
wishes of Lieutenant-General Holmes for more expe- 
rienced senior officers, Clark was chosen Major. Halifax 
County had no company in this regiment but its history- 
is interesting because of the close connection with it of one 
of the most distinguished sons of the county. In the bio- 
graphy of Judge Clark, given elsewhere, will be found a 
brief summary of the services of this body of troops. 

In December, 1864, the Seventy-First Regiment of 
Junior Reserves was organized at Weldon with J. H. An- 
derson as Colonel. Halifax County furnished one company 
officered as follows: W. R. Williams, Captain; David C. 
Whitaker, First Lieutenant; W. E. Martin and W. T. 
Purnell, Second Lieutenants. The regiment was in service 
only about four months, but the Halifax Company had 
been organized in July of the preceding summer and had 
done provost duty at Weldon until attached to the Sev- 
enty-First Regiment. immediately after its organization, Colonel 
Anderson was ordered to Belfield (now Emporia), Va., to 
check the advance of the P'ederals upon that place. This 
was gallantly done, and, upon the retreat of the enemy, 
he was pursued several miles. The weather was in- 
tensely cold and the soldiers suffered very much from the 


lack of proper clothing and bedding. For their gallant 
service, on this occasion, the General Assembly passed a 
resolution of thanks. Later, the regiment was attached 
to Hoke's division, and was under fire at Kinston, South 
West Creek, and Bentonville, surrendering with Johnston 
at Durham. 

Just previous to the organization of the Seventy-First 
Regiment of Junior Reserves, by act of the Confederate 
Congress the Seventh Cavalry was formed, which body 
of troops was afterwards designated as the Seventy-Fifth 
Regiment. Halifax County furnished one company with 
the following officers: W. K. Lane of Wayne County 
Captain ; John A. Collins, First Lieutenant ; W. F. Parker, 
Second Lieutenant. No explanation is given why a man 
from Wayne County was elected Captain more than the 
fact that this was a company of Junior Reserves, and it 
was desired to have an experienced officer to command. 
During its term of service, John H. Branch also served 
as first lieutenant. The regiment served in eastern North 
Carolina, at Petersburg, and surrendered at Appomattox. 



During the entire four years of warfare, from 1861 to 
the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, not a 
foot of Halifax County soil was occupied by Federal troops. 
In a very important sense, we were remote from the war 
zone and felt no shock of arms nor heard the din of battle. 
Nevertheless, the county and particularly Weldon held a 
strategic position throughout the war. 

Weldon was selected, early in 1861, as a mobilization 
camp for troops intended for the Virginia campaigns. 
Just across the Roanoke, in Northampton County, was es- 
tablished a school of instruction where raw recruits were 
drilled and seasoned into grim warriors. Here, many of 
the regiments were organized and trained before being 
sent to the firing line. 

The railroad lines through Weldon were the main ar- 
teries that transported reinforcements and supplies to 
Lee's army from the South. With these railroads in the 
hands of the Confederacy, the war might be brought to a 
successful conclusion or prolonged indefinitely ; with them 
severed, Richmond would fall and the gray line around 
Petersburg would be irretrievably broken. Hence the ef- 
fort of the Federals, early in the war, to burn the railroad 
bridge at Weldon and the determined purpose of the Con- 
federates to hold it. 

Weldon was, therefore, a place of much importance, far 
more than its size, at that time, warranted. For a long 
time, Lieutenant-General Holmes, in command of the de- 
partment of Eastern North Carolina, made his headquar- 
ters there; and later, during the closing months of the 
war, Brigadier-General Baker, in command of the same 
department, issued most of his orders from that point* 


The concentration camps for troops from many portions 
of the State and the far South were located on the out- 
skirts of the town, and troops were constantly marching 
and countermarching through the principal thorough- 
fares. Weldon, therefore, presented all the appearances 
of war without any of its accompanying horrors. 

Elsewhere in the county, also, there was considerable 
military activity, although no fighting occurred. Near 
Scotland Neck, at Edwards' Ferry, the Ram Albemarle, 
that performed such remarkable service in the recapture 
of Plymouth, was built. As that extraordinary vessel 
contributed such an important chapter in the record of 
the war in North Carolina, a general statement about its 
construction, equipment, manning, and services will not 
be inappropriate. As to the construction and equipment, 
the best authority is the builder of the wonderful naval 
prodigy, Gilbert Elliott, of Elizabeth City, who was when 
he began its construction just nineteen years of age. His 
report, taken from Vol. V of the North Carolina Regi- 
mental Histories, is here given : 

"During the spring of 1863, having been previously en- 
gaged in unsuccessful efforts to construct war vessels, of 
one sort or another, for the Confederate Government, at 
different points in Eastern North Carolina and Virginia, I 
undertook a contract with the Navy Department to build 
an iron-clad gunboat, intended, if ever completed, to oper- 
ate on the waters of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. Ed- 
wards' Ferry on the Roanoke river, in Halifax County, 
North Carolina, about 30 miles below the town of Weldon, 
was fixed upon as the most suitable for the purpose. The 
river rises and falls, as is well known, and it was necessary 
to locate the yard on ground sufficiently free from over- 
flow to admit of uninterrupted work for at least twelve 
months. No vessel was ever constructed under more ad- 
verse circumstances. The shipyard was established in a 
corn field, where the ground had already been marked out 
and planted for the coming crop, but the owner of the land, 
W. R. Smith, Esq., was in hearty sympathy with the en- 


terprise, and aided me then and afterwards, in a thousand 
ways, to accomplish the end I had in view. It was next to 
impossible to obtain machinery suitable for the work in 
hand. Here and there, scattered about the surrounding 
country, a portable saw mill, blacksmith's forge, or other 
apparatus was found, however, and the citizens of the 
neighborhoods on both sides of the river were not slow to 
render me assistance, but co-operated cordially in the com- 
pletion of the iron-clad, and at the end of about one year 
from the laying of the keel, during which innumerable 
difficulties were overcome by constant application, de- 
termined effort, and incessant labor, day and night, suc- 
cess crowned the efforts of those engaged in the under- 

"Seizing an opportunity offered by comparatively high 
water, the boat was launched, though not without mis- 
givings as to the result, for the yard being on a bluff she 
had to take a jump, and as a matter of fact was 'hogged' 
in the attempt, but to our great gratification did not 
thereby spring a leak. 

"The plans and specifications were prepared by John 
L. Porter, Chief Constructor of the Confederate Navy, 
who availed himself of the advantage gained by his ex- 
perience in converting the frigate Merrimack into the 
iron-clad Virginia at the Gosport navy yard." 

Mr. Elliott gives a very minute detailed statement as 
to the size and armament of the vessel. Continuing he 

"The Albemarle was 152 feet long between perpen- 
diculars ; her extreme width was 45 feet ; her depth from 
the gun-deck to the keel was 9 feet, and when launched 
she drew 6 1-2 feet of water, but after being ironed and 
completed her draught was about 8 feet. The keel was 
laid, and construction was commenced by bolting down, 
across the center, a piece of frame timber, which was of 
yellow pine, eight by ten inches. Another frame of the 
same size was then dovetailed into this, extending out- 
wardly at an angle of forty-five degrees, forming the 


side, and at the outer end of this the frame for the shield 
was also dovetailed, the angle being thirty-five degrees, 
and then the top deck was added, and so on around to the 
other end of the bottom beam. Other beams were then 
bolted down to the keel, and to the one first fastened, and 
so on, working fore and aft, the main deck beams being 
interposed from stem to stern. The shield was sixty 
feet in length and octagonal in form. When this part of 
the work was completed she was a solid boat, built of 
pine frames, and if caulked would have floated in that 
condition, but she was afterwards covered with four- 
inch planking, laid on longitudinally, as ships are usually 
planked, and this was properly caulked and pitched, cot- 
ton being used for caulking instead of oakum, the latter 
being very scarce and the former almost the only article 
to be had in abundance. Much of the timber was hauled 
long distances. Three portable saw mills were obtained, 
one of which was located at the yard, the others being 
moved about from time to time to such growing timber 
as could be procured. 

"The iron plating consisted of two courses, seven inches 
wide and two inches thick, mostly rolled at the Tredeger 
Iron Works, Richmond. The first course was laid length- 
wise, over a wooden backing, 16 inches in thickness, a 2- 
inch space, filled in with wood, being left between each 
two layers to afford space for bolting the outer course 
through the whole shield, and the outer course was laid 
flush, forming a smooth surface, similar to that of the 
Virginia. The inner part of the shield was covered with 
a thin course of planking, nicely dressed, mainly with a 
view to protection from splinters. Oak knees were bolt- 
ed in, to act as braces and supports for the shield. 

"The armament consisted of two rifled 'Brooke' guns 
mounted on pivot-carriages, each gun working through 
three port-holes, as occasion required, there being one 
port-hole at each end of the shield and two on each side. 
These were protected by iron covers lowered and raised 
by a contrivance worked on the gun deck. She had two 


propellers driven by two engines of 200 horse power each 
with 20-inch cylinders, steam being supplied by two flue 
boilers, and the shafting was geared together. The sides 
were covered from the knuckle, four feet below the deck, 
with iron plates two inches thick. The prow was built 
of oak, running 18 feet back, on center keelson and solidly 
bolted, and it was covered on the outside with iron plat- 
ing two inches thick, and tapering off to a four-inch edge, 
formed the ram. 

"The work of putting on the armor was prosecuted for 
some time under the most disheartening circumstances, 
on account of the difficulty of drilling holes in the iron in- 
tended for her armor. But one small engine and drill 
could be had, and it required, at the best, twenty minutes 
to drill an inch and a quarter hole through the plates, and 
it looked as if we would never accomplish the task. But 
'necessity is the mother of invention', and one of my as- 
sociates in the enterprise, Peter E. Smith, of Scotland 
Neck, North Carolina, invented and made a twist-drill 
with which the work of drilling a hole could be done in 
four minutes, the drill cutting out the iron in shavings 
instead of fine powder. 

"For many reasons it was thought judicious to remove 
the boat to the town of Halifax, about twenty miles up 
the river, and the work of completion, putting in her ar- 
mament, machinery, etc., was done at that point, although 
the actual finishing touches were not given until a few 
days before going into action at Plymouth." 

Having been completed, the Albemarle was placed 
under the command of Captain James W. Cooke, of the 
Confederate Navy, and manned by a complement of dar- 
ing sailors. Being ordered to co-operate with General 
Hoke in his attack upon Plymouth, Cooke drifted down 
the river stern foremost until he came within a few miles 
of Plymouth. He then attacked the two Federal gun- 
boats, the Southfield and Miami, sank the former, and 
chased the latter to the Albemarle Sound, silencing also 
the batteries on the river shore. The next day General 


Hoke carried the Federal works by storm, captured the 
to\ ', and took the entire garrison prisoners of war. 

As for the Albemarle, a few more months of glory end- 
ed her career on the spot of her greatest achievement. 
Shortly after the recapture of Plymouth, Captain Cooke 
proceeded down the Roanoke to its mouth and engaged, 
in the Albemarle Sound, a Federal fleet of seven vessels. 
After a teriffic battle of four hours, in which her smoke 
stack was riddled and she was otherwise crippled, at the 
cost of enormous losses to the Federals, she steamed back 
to Plymouth, and lay almost a wreck until the night of 
October 27, 1864, when she was torpedoed and sunk by 
Lieutenant William B. Cushing of the United States Navy. 
Subsequently, the Alhemarle was raised and towed to the 
Norfolk Navy Yard, and, being stripped of her armament, 
machinery, etc., was sold October 15, 1867. 

Thus ended the career of one of the first iron-clad gun- 
boats ever built and the only war vessel ever constructed 
in Halifax County. Its riddled smoke stack is now in 
the museum of the Historical Commission at Raleigh. 

llf^**^. /^. G^f^ 



Halifax County soldiers played an important, and fre- 
quently a conspicuous, part in many of the great events 
of the war. They were ever among the foremost in nearly 
all of the great battles. There was no deed of daring, no 
perilous duty to perform, no sacrifice to make, no suffer- 
ing to endure that Halifax veterans were not ready to 
undergo. The story of their patriotism, their endurance, 
and their fortitude under most trying circumstances 
would more than fill a volume. Only a few references to 
their deeds and dangers can be made. It is difficult to 
tell the story of the private soldier because of the lack 
of information, but the record of the officers, in many a 
duplicate, will give a fair estimate of the heroism of the 
men in the trenches. 

Halifax furnished to the Confederate service five brig- 
adier-generals ; namely, L. O'B. Branch, Junius Daniel, W. 
R. Cox, L. S. Baker, and David C. Clark, the last men- 
tioned holding a State commission, while the others were 
commissioned by the Confederate Government. 

Branch was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general 
in January, 1862, and given command of about 5000 
troops with headquarters at Newbern. In March, of that 
year, he was attacked by about 15,000 Federals, and, after 
a stubborn resistance, was compelled to retreat, surren- 
dering Newbern and the Pamlico country to the enemy. 
Branch afterwards commanded a brigade in the Army of 
Northern Virginia, and, at the Battle of Antietam, was 

Daniel, whose commission as a brigadier dated from 
September 1, 1862, was a gallant officer. His courage, en- 
durance, and skill, were exhibited on many hard fought 


battlefields; and in one of the most stubbornly contested 
conflicts of the whole war, Spottsylvania, he was slain 
while cheering on his men. 

"Last at Appomattox" is a legend that has long been 
claimed for North Carolina, and, in its glory, Halifax 
County is entitled to a share. General W, R. Cox, a na- 
tive of Scotland Neck, led the last charge of the last at- 
tacking column that fired the last shot, on the morning 
of Lee's surrender, a few minutes before the capitulation 
took place. Cox's brigade, among whom were some gal- 
lant sons of Halifax, thus did the last duty for the Con- 
federacy, and, when ordered, stacked their arms with the 
deepest feeling of humiliation and regret. 

Brigadier-General David C. Clark, commissioned by 
the State government, was, for a time, in command of 
the district of the Roanoke, and guarded the county 
against invasion from the southeast, again and again 
foiling the raiding parties of the enemy from Plymouth 
and the Albemarle country. 

General Baker was a cavalry officer. During the last 
six months of the war, he was in command of the District 
of Eastern North Carolina with headquarters at Weldon. 
Judge J. M. Mullen, of Petersburg, Va., at one time a resi- 
dent of the county, has given, in Volume V of the Regi- 
mental Histories, an interesting account of "The Last 
Fifteen Days of Baker's Command at Weldon". With his 
permission, a part of that article is inserted here : 

"After the evacuation of Plymouth, Washington, Kin- 
ston, and Goldsboro, Brigadier-General L. S. Baker was 
sent to Weldon, charged with the duty of holding on to 
that place, not only for the purpose of preserving railroad 
communication between the other forces in North Caro- 
lina and the Army of Northern Virginia, and those along 
the line of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad from 
Goldsboro to that point, but of collecting supplies for 
these armies from that portion of Eastern North Caro- 
lina not actually in possession of the enemy. The author- 
ities recognizing the importance of this position in these 


respects, it being one of the principal sources of supply 
for the armies in the field, instructed General Baker to 
hold it until the last moment, and, at the same time, to 
watch out for and repel any raids of the enemy coming 
from the Blackwater and Chowan, and from Plymouth, 
Washington, and Goldsboro. With the force under his 
command, this was no light duty, and he was necessarily 
absent from Weldon most of his time looking after the 
various points under his supervision. Weldon, however, 
was the headquarters of his department, which was styled 
'The Second Military District of North Carolina'. In his 
absence, the captain of our battery (Captain L. H. Webb, 
Company A, Thirteenth Battalion, North Carolina Light 
Artillery), was in command. 

"The task imposed upon this small force, consisting of 
two or three hundred infantry and our battery number- 
ing about one hundred and twenty-five men, was no light 
one. For weeks it had been in a state of constant activity 
and excitement, enhanced towards the last with continued 
suspense and anxiety. It had been constantly on the move 
to meet threatened advances from the directions of the 
Tar and lower Roanoke, and the Chowan and Blackwater 
rivers. If I remember aright, during the month of March, 
it had been sent upon two expeditions through Northamp- 
ton, Hartford, and Bertie counties, to repel reported raids 
of the enemy's cavalry from the Chowan, one, to and below 
Tarboro to meet a threatened advance from the lower Tar 
and Roanoke, and one, down at the Seaboard & Roanoke 
Railroad towards Franklin, to check a cavalry raid from 
the Blackwater. This last expedition, however, was in 
April, the command returning to camp therefrom the night 
of April 6. It was under command of Colonel Whitford, 
who had with him not to exceed two hundred infantry, 
(about fifty of whom were members of our company, 
armed with inferior rifles), and two guns from our bat- 
tery. I was with the expedition as a cannoneer of one of 
the guns of the battery. I forgot to say that we were con- 


veyed down the Seaboard road upon two or three flat cars, 
and possibly a box car or two. Upon reaching Boykin's 
Depot, about twenty-five miles from Weldon, we discovered 
that, all below that point, the enemy had torn up and 
burned the track so that it was impossible for us to pro- 
ceed further on the train. Disembarking, we reconnoi- 
tered the situation for several miles around and remained 
there until next morning, when hearing that the enemy 
was making his way in the direction of Weldon, we boarded 
the train and started back. After passing Seaboard, a 
small station about ten miles east of Weldon, Colonel Whit- 
ford, who was riding on the engine, saw one or two men run 
across the track some six or seven hundred yards ahead. 
He at once ordered the train stopped. This precaution was 
not taken any too soon ; for as soon as some of the infantry 
were put off as skirmishers and the situation was taken in, 
it was discovered that the track for some distance just 
ahead of us was torn up and that the enemy had ambus- 
caded both sides. We had passed Seaboard about a mile. 
As soon as the train was stopped the enemy opened fire 
upon us. Colonel Whitford caused the train to be run back 
to Seaboard, where the remainder of the command was put 
in position to await the return of the skirmishers, who 
were ordered to fall back as soon as they could ascertain 
with some certainty the force and purpose of the enemy. 
They soon reported that the enemy, consisting of a regi- 
ment of cavalry, had retired in the direction of Jackson, 
which was distant some eight miles in a southeast direction 
from where we were and away from Weldon. Colonel 
Whitford concluded to follow on after them, but I sus- 
pect with no hearty desire to meet up with them, for he 
could but know that our force was not able to cope suc- 
cessfully with a full regiment. Upon reaching Jackson, 
we learned there that the regiment was the Third New 
York Cavalry, about six hundred strong, well mounted 
and thoroughly equipped with Spencer repeating car- 
bines, and had passed through that town some hours be- 
fore, and then must be near Murfreesboro, some twenty- 


five miles distant. After waiting several hours at Jack- 
son, our guns were ordered back overland to Weldon, 
while the infantry under Colonel Whitf ord's command re- 
tired to Halifax. I shall always remember with pleasure 
one little incident connected with this affair. Several 
weeks before, as we had more men than were required or 
needed to man the guns, about sixty of our company had 
been armed with rifles and acted with the infantry. When 
the train was halted and skirmishers thrown off, I was 
anxious to join them and endeavored to get one of the 
riflemen to exchange places with me. I knew he was dis- 
affected, and it occurred to me that he would not hesitate 
to shirk danger ; but I reckoned without my host. He re- 
jected the overture with some indignation, and remarked 
that if anybody had to use his rifle he proposed to do it 
himself ; and I ascertained that he behaved as gallantly as 
any man. This but illustrates that it was not cowardice 
that caused a great many of our soldiers to waver in 
their allegiance towards the close of the war, but the ter- 
rible hardships to which they were subjected, the dis- 
tressing accounts of suffering of their loved ones at home, 
and the intuitive knowledge that defeat was inevitable. I 
remember with sadness, without any feeling of censure, 
many instances of desertion of as brave men as ever 
marched to the tap of a drum. 

"On April 7, about 5 o'clock p. m., a telegram was re- 
ceived by Captain Webb, who was in command, from Gen- 
eral Johnston, ordering that all trains north of the Roa- 
noke river be recalled at once, all the artillery that could 
be moved got on the south side, and such heavy guns in 
the defences north of the river as could not be moved be 
destroyed, and the railroad bridge burned. Steps were at 
once taken to execute the order, and by hard service all 
night, the next morning (Saturday, 8th) found every- 
thing in the shape of guns, ordnance, quartermaster and 
commissary stores, removed from the north side of the 
river and delivered in Weldon, and combustibles at once 
gathered and placed at each end of the railroad bridge to 


fire it as soon as all the trains were safely over. The 
bridge, however, was not fired that day, why, I will let 
Captain Webb speak. I quote from his diary: 'General 
Baker came up about 10 o'clock A. M. and ordered me 
with my battery and Williams' section of artillery across 
the river again. Upon getting my battery over the river, 
I put my guns in position along the old line as I thought 
best, and awaited ulterior orders from headquarters. My 
only support were the feeble remains of a company of so- 
called cavalry under Captain Strange. In all the twenty 
men of his command, there was not a single man or offi- 
cer decently mounted. With my old fiery Bucephalus, 
Duncan, I could have charged and overturned every skel- 
eton of a horse in his company. But the men were all 
true Tar Heels, and there was no braver man than Cap- 
tain Strange. On the afternoon of the 10th, the artillery 
was ordered back to the south side, and preparations made 
to leave Weldon.' According to Captain Webb, there were 
then at that point about five hundred men, including at 
least seventy-five stragglers, furloughed men, convales- 
cents from the hospitals, and detailed men." 

Judge Mullen proceeds, in his story, to tell of the aban- 
donment of Weldon and the retreat of the command to- 
ward Raleigh, in an effort to join General Johnston at that 
place. The little army left Weldon on April 12th and had 
not gone far on the way when news of the surrender of 
Lee reached them, and the realization that the cause was 
indeed a lost one came upon them. Nevertheless, they 
continued to push on, hoping to join Johnston and with 
him to strike one more blow in behalf of the expiring Con- 
federacy. At Ridgeway, the command separated, the bulk 
of the men returning to their homes, while fifty under the 
immediate direction of General Baker continued their ef- 
forts to join Johnston. At Earpsboro, however, on April 
18th, General Baker received information that Johnston 
had surrendered. He, therefore, sent a flag of truce to 
General Sherman surrendering his command on April 


At Weldon, after Baker's Brigade had left, the great- 
est excitement prevailed. People from the Northampton 
side of the river came crowding into the town to escape 
the imagined evils that they supposed would follow in the 
wake of the Federal army of occupation. The railroad 
bridge was the scene of the greatest interest and alarm» 
All the trains and engines in Weldon and vicinity were 
run on the bridge, and, on the 13th of April, fire was ap- 
plied, consuming the structure and letting fall the engines 
to the bottom of the river. This was supposed to cut 
Weldon off from the danger of immediate occupation by 
the union forces. Such, however, was not the case, for 
not many days passed before the blue coats came and as- 
sumed general direction of affairs, coming from the 
Northampton side of the river as patrol parties from 
Grant's army in Virginia and from Goldsboro, that was 
then in the hands of Sherman. 

In a few weeks, all the soldiers, surrendered by Lee at 
Appomattox and by Johnston at Durham, found their way 
to their homes, and people generally began to realize that 
the long war had ended. Halifax County men, who had 
surrendered, returned, feeling that they had fought a 
good fight in support of the old regime and had failed, and 
were now ready to accept the result in good faith and 
make the most of it. 

The Federal forces lost no time in completely occupy- 
ing the county. Patrol posts were established at Halifax, 
Enfield, and Weldon, and Federal soldiers and officers were 
seen in every community. The war was over, but the bit- 
terness of defeat was present. 



Recovery from the effects of the war was slow but 
steady. The men, who had followed Lee in Virginia or 
suffered in the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond, 
now entered heartily into the task of rebuilding the waste 
places. Some of the soldier boys, who had been wounded 
or held in prison, did not get back to their homes until late 
in the summer or early fall of 1865. When they did re- 
turn, however, they, too, began the work of rebuilding. 
The war, it is true, was ended, but the battles of peace, no 
less stern and unrelenting, had to be fought ; and the man- 
hood of Halifax, that had heard without fear the whistle 
of bullets, or seen without dismay, the glimmer of bay- 
onets, did not hesitate to do their part. 

Halifax County was in the gloom of defeat and in dan- 
ger of alien domination ; but it needed development. The 
four years of war had arrested the march of progress in 
almost every line of industry. There was no enterprise 
in agriculture, no manufacturing, no lumbering, no bank- 
ing, and none of the many other lines of business now be- 
ing conducted so successfully in the county. The red hand 
of war had blasted every important industry, and stagna- 
tion was stalking abroad. 

But the heroes of the trenches were no less brave in 
home development than they had been on the battlefield. 
With no less courage, in the piping times of peace, than 
they had displayed on a hundred fields of carnage, the 
boys that went out to battle with enthusiasm in 1861 and 
returned in 1865, unconquered but overwhelmed, entered 
with zeal into the task of development. With industry 
and enterprise characteristic of a people determined to 




succeed, the county soon began to emerge from its stupor 
and to put on new life. 

Gloom and disaster, however, almost as bad as the 
storm of war was just ahead. With the advent of peace 
and the freedom of the negro, grave feelings of uneasiness 
became apparent as to the status of the f reedman and his 
political affiliations, if he should be given the ballot. 

During the war, the county had been represented in the 
State Senate by Mason L. Wiggins and in the House by 
Henry Joyner and Archibald H. Davis. For the year 18G6, 
Mason L. Wiggins was re-elected to the Senate. D. C. 
Clark and W. A. Daniel were chosen to represent the 
county in the House. To represent Halifax in the Con- 
vention of 1865. called to rescind the ordinance of seces- 
sion and to ratify the emancipation of the slaves, Edward 
Conigland and W. W. Brickell were chosen. 

In this time of stress and uneasiness, all eyes were 
focused upon the Federal Congress, anxiously awaiting 
action by that body regarding the restoration of the State 
to its position as a member of the union. It was not until 
1867, however, that Congress decided definitely upon a 
policy for the seceded states. In March, that year, the 
first of the reconstruction acts were passed, organizing 
North and South Carolina into a military district with 
General E. R. Canby as military governor with headquar- 
ters at Charleston, S. C. The same year. Congress passed 
the Fourteenth Amendment, which conferred the fran- 
chise upon the negro men of the South, and, by statute, 
withdrew it from thousands of white men, who had taken 
part in the late war. 

By this reconstruction measure, more than 3000 negro 
men became legalized citizens in Halifax county, and cast 
their ballots for tne first time in the election of 1868. In 
that year, the number of votes cast were as follows : Dem- 
ocratic, 1,593 ; Republican, 3,206. This vote compared with 
that of 1856 shows a startling increase. In that year, the 
vote was as follows : Democratic, 688 ; Whig, 509. There 
was, therefore, an increase in 1868 of 3,602, at least five- 


sixth of which was the negro vote. The white voters, as 
is apparent, found themselves overwhelmed by this ava- 
lanche of negro ballots. An evil day consequently dawned ; 
and Halifax County, that had hitherto furnished men of 
learning and ability to the councils of State and nation, 
now found itself in the hands of ignorant ex-slaves, de- 
signing scalawags, and worse carpetbaggers. Henry 
Epps, a former slave, was elected in 1868, to the State 
Senate, and two other negroes, H. T. J. Hayes and Ivey 
Hutchings, and a carpetbagger, John H. Renfrow, were 
elected to the House. The government of the county fell 
entirely into the hands of the negroes and their confed- 
erates, the scalawags and carpetbaggers. 

This domination continued until 1888, when the alien 
government was completely overthrown, and the native 
white people again assumed control. During that period, 
however, of political stagnation, from 1868 to 1888, the 
county made decided advances in material prosperity. 

In 1868, the towns in the county were of little note. 
Halifax had lost its pristine significance and was of small 
commercial importance. Weldon was noted only as be- 
ing the terminus of four railroads. Scotland Neck was 
merely two villages, Clarksville and Greenwood, a mile 
apart, Enfield, with about five hundred people, was per- 
haps the largest town in the county. Littleton had just 
emerged from the stigma of being called Little's Ordinary 
and was a mere hamlet. Palmyra was a small neighbor- 
hood on the Roanoke. Hobgood, Roanoke Rapids, Rose- 
mary, and Hollister were not as yet in existence. 

Since 1868, however, the forces of industry have 
brought about a wonderful change in the commercial im- 
portance of the country. Tremendous strides have been 
made in the development of agriculture. Land, which, in 
1868, produced no more than a half bale of cotton to the 
acre, now produces a bale and a half. In manufacturing, 
the most wonderful progress has been made. At the close 
of the civil war, there was not a factory of any kind in 
the county, and that record continued until about 1890. 


In that year a knitting mill was built in Scotland Neck. In 
1892, Major Thomas L. Emry began the development of 
the water power of the Roanoke river at a point about 
five miles above Weldon, and from his efforts has come the 
magic town of Roanoke Rapids with its large cotton fac- 
tories, knitting mills, and paper mill and a population of 
over six thousand people. Weldon has also become a man- 
ufacturing center. At Hollister, the Fosburgh Lumber 
Company has one of the largest plants in the county. In 
1868, there was not a bank in the county. Now there are 

In railroad building, the county has been among the 
first in the State. Besides the two trunk lines that were 
built before the outbreak of the Civil War, two other 
lines, the Kinston Branch and the Norfolk and Carolina,, 
have been completed since 1880. In all about fifty miles 
of railroad have been constructed since the civil war. 



Until 1880, the government of the county was entirely 
in the hands of the ignorant element. They held all the 
remunerative offices and sent to the General Assembly 
regularly from 1868 to 1880 a negro to the Senate and a 
negro and a white man, a carpetbagger or a scalawag, to 
the House. In 1880, however, the conservatives asserted 
themselves and elected to the General Assembly Spier 
Whitaker, representative in the Senate and William H. 
Day and M. T. Savage in the House. The "radical" ele- 
ment again triumphed at the polls in 1882, but, in 1884, 
it was again overthrown by the election to the Senate of 
J. M. Mullen, and David Bell and A. J. Burton to the 
House. Again in 1886 the alien government became es- 
tablished to be finally overthrown in 1888 by the election 
of Thomas L. Emry to the Senate and W. H. Anthony and 
Thomas H. Taylor to the House. 

Since that time the following representatives have 
served terms in the General Assembly : 

House of Representatives 
W. W. Hall, A. B. Hill 
W. H. Kitchin 
J. M. Grizzard, J. A. House 
Scotland Harris, J. H. Arrington 
W. P. White, H. S. Harrison 
W. F. Parker, W. P. White 
W, F. Parker, W. P. White 
T. C. Harrison, Sandys Gale 
John B. Neal, A. Paul Kitchin 
A. Paul Kitchin, H. S. Harrison 
W. T. Clement, P. N. Stainbach, 
A. H. Green 
1913 W. E. Daniel W. T. Clement, W. P. White 

1915 W. L. Long j. H. Darden, T. H. Taylor 

1917 W. L. Long J. H. Darden, T. H, Taylor 





E. Bowers 



H. Day 



E. Green 



T. Clark 



L. Travis 



L. Travis 



L. Travis 



H. Thorne 



E. Daniel 



L. Travis 



Paul Kitchin 


These men, most of them still living, performed a part 
in rescuing the county from the grip of reconstruction 
evils that is little short of marvellous. Some of them at- 
tained positions of honor outside of the county, and, there- 
fore, deserve more than a passing mention. W. H. Day 
afterwards removed to Raleigh and became one of the 
most prominent attorneys in the State capital. Kitchin 
had, in 1878, been elected to Congress defeating two 
negroes, John A. Hyman, of Warren, and James E. 
O'Hara, of Halifax, both running on the Republican ticket. 
Travis is now, 1917, chairman of the State Corporation 
Commission, having been elected to a position in that body 
in 1910. Daniel was solicitor for this judicial district 
from 1894 to 1906, making a splendid record in that 

Previous to 1871, for ten years, Halifax County had 
been in the First Congressional District ; but in that year 
it became incorporated in the Second. In 1870, Charles 
R. Thomas, a Republican, was elected to represent the dis- 
trict in Congress, and re-elected in 1872. Thomas was a 
scalawag from Newbern. In 1874, the district did an un- 
precedented thing in electing a negro, John A. Hyman, of 
Warren County, to the national Congress. Two years 
later, Curtis H. Brogden, of Goldsboro, who had been 
governor of the State for two years, was chosen; but in 
1878 Brogden failed of the nomination on the Republican 
ticket and two negroes, John A. Hyman, of Warren, and 
James E. O'Hara, of Halifax, were candidates, both claim- 
ing to have been nominated by the Republican Conven- 
tion. Seeing a chance of success, the Democrats nomi- 
nated W. H. Kitchin, of Scotland Neck. A spectacular 
three-cornered fight was the result, and Kitchin was 
elected by a plurality vote. 

For twenty years following that time, the second dis- 
trict was represented in Congress by negroes, James E. 
O'Hara, of Halifax, H. P. Cheatham, of Vance, and George 
H. White, of Edgecombe. In 1900, however, Claude 
Kitchin, of Scotland Neck, was elected and has been con- 


tinuously in Congress since. He has taken high rank and 
is now Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of 
the House and the floor leader of the Democrats. 

Halifax County took an active part in the World War. 
Claude Kitchin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee of the House of Representatives of the National 
Congress, voted against the Declaration of War with Ger- 
many, April 6, 1917, but, finding himself in the minority, 
he accepted the result as conclusive and allied himself 
with the President of the United States in the greatest war 
preparation ever undertaken by a nation. The war meas- 
ures that startled the world in the enormous revenue 
raised for the prosecution of the war and the transporta- 
tion of two millions of soldiers to Europe were largely the 
product of his efforts. 

More than twelve hundred men were sent by the Hali- 
fax County Exemption Board to the training camps, and 
about one hundred, besides, volunteered for different lines 
of service. Many saw active service on the battlefields of 
France, and some made the extreme sacrifice for country 
and humanity. 

In every drive for Liberty Loans or for war work, the 
county went "over the top" early in the campaigns. In the 
fight, therefore, for the liberation of mankind and in mak- 
ing the world safe for democracy and Christianity, the 
county did no small part. Both men and money answered 
the call and answered it gloriously. 

At present, Halifax County ranks as one of the fore- 
most in the State in political influence, in educational 
progress, in religious development, in material prosperity, 
and in general industrial activity. Perhaps, there is no 
county in North Carolina that stands higher in any of 
these activities. On the Supreme Court Bench, the chief- 
justice. Judge Walter Clark, is a native of Halifax. The 
Chairman of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, 
E. L. Travis, lives in Halifax. The Chairman of the Ways 
and Means Committee of the Federal House of Represen- 
tatives, Claude Kitchin, lives in Scotland Neck. William 


W. Kitchin, who was a member of Congress for twelve 
years and Governor of North Carolina for four years, is 
a Halifax County man, though he now lives in Raleigh. 

In educational activity the county ranks high. Wel- 
don, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary, Scotland Neck, Enfield, 
and Littleton have splendid systems of public graded 
schools with valuable brick buildings in which the schools 
are conducted. Halifax, Hobgood, and Hollister have also 
good schools. Religiously, also, the county is wide awake. 
In other lines of progress, the county is by no means a 

If we compare Halifax County of the present with one 
hundred and fifty years ago, we shall see a wonderful dif- 
ference. Then, a few hundred people lived here ; now fifty 
thousand. Then, only two villages in the county; now 
five thriving towns with large industrial and commercial 
activities. Then, no roads worthy the name; now splen- 
did sand-clay turnpikes traversing almost every section. 
Then, no industry of any note ; now, almost every line of 
business in the modern world represented. Then, no 
schools; now, six city school systems besides other High 
Schools and rural schools of splendid efficiency. Then, 
few churches ; now beautiful and substantial houses of 
worship in every neighborhood. In short, Halifax County 
in a few generations, has leaped from the desolation of 
the wilderness, unknown and unhonored, into the cal- 
cium light of railroads, telegraph lines, telephones, elec- 
tric lights, schools, newspapers, churches, paved boule- 
vards, factories, paper mills, and all the conveniences and 
improvements of the modern community. Well might it 
be said "What wonderful changes time hath wrought!" 



There are numbers of interesting incidents connected 
with the history of Halifax County, not vitally concerned 
in the story as given in the preceding pages, but are so 
absorbing that mention may very well be made in a 
chapter of "Odds and Ends." 

The Crowell Family. 

From Wheeler's History of North Carolina: 

"Two brothers, John Crowell and Edward, came to 
North Carolina and settled in Halifax. They emigrated 
from Woodbridge, New Jersey. They are originally from 
England; and they or their ancestors were originally 
called Cromwell. 

"In the year 1674, says the Annalist of Philadelphia, 
two brothers of Oliver Cromwell left England for Amer- 
ica and settled in New Jersey. They fled from England, 
from the political storms that impended over the name 
and house of the late Protector. 

"While on the voyage, fearing that persecution would 
follow from the adherents of Charles II., then on the 
English throne, they resolved to change the name. This 
was done with solemn ceremony, and by writing their 
name each on paper, and each cutting from the paper the 
M and casting it in the sea. 

"The family pedigree on vellum, recording these facts, 
was with the family in North Carolina, in an ornamental 
chest with other valuables, when by a party of Tarleton's 
Legion, in 1781, this chest was seized and taken off. These 
facts are undoubted. The record was again made up from 
the recollections of the family, and is still preserved 


among them. From one of them, these interesting and 
curious facts are derived. 

"Here, in the quiet retreats of North Carolina, the as- 
piring blood of Cromwell found repose, and in the peace- 
ful precincts of Halifax, the exquisite poetry of Gray 
was fully realized : 

'Some village Hampden, who with dauntless breast, 
The petty tyrant of his fields withstood, 

Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest, 

Some Cromwell guiltless of his Country's blood.' " 

ThiS' story of the Crowell family has been robbed of 
some of its interest in the last few years by the statement 
that Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, was the only 
son of his father surviving infancy. These brothers, who 
came to America from England, could not, therefore, have 
been his. Another story of this interesting incident was 
found among the papers of the late S. S. Alsop, a part of 
which is here quoted: 

"After the death of Oliver Cromwell, which happened 
about the year 1658, his eldest son, Richard Cromwell, 
having been named as his successor, quietly assumed the 
reins of government. It was very soon discovered, how- 
ever, that the talent and disposition of Richard were by 
no means of an order to enable him to hold with firmness 
that which his father had won by the exercise of much 
energy, skill, and political address. Being a man of peace- 
ful disposition, amiable, and unambitious, Richard 
allowed himself to be deposed without the least effort to 
prevent it. Charles II. was now recalled from Normandy 
and offered the throne. Richard Cromwell, in the mean- 
time, had retired to his country seat, where, in the pur- 
suit of more congenial employment, he lived to a very old 
age in the practice of all social and domestic virtues, and 
in the enjoyment of those rich and pleasant rewards 
which ever follow a well-spent life. After the death of 
Richard, his sons emigrated to America, about the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century, and settled in New Jer- 


sey. Before landing, however, a family council was held 
when, in the known unpopularity of the family on this 
side, especially in the middle and southern provinces, it 
was agreed to drop from the name the letter (m), thus 
leaving it Crowell, as it is at present written. 

"Shortly after the settlement of the family in New Jer- 
sey, Edward and Joseph Crowell were born, and from 
thence, about 1730, immigrated into this State. Here 
Joseph married a Miss Barns, a woman, says Wheeler, re- 
markable for her personal beauty. 

"Edward Crowell, who settled near what is now known 
as Crowell's X Roads, married a Miss Raburn, a sister of 
Matthew Raburn, afterwards Governor of Georgia." 


A story from the pen of James Moore, father of B. F. 
Moore, at one time Attorney-General of North Carolina, 
is interesting enough to find a place in this volume. The 
following is his own account: 

"In 1775-6, enlistments were made in the neighbor- 
hoods where the musters were held, and I was very anx- 
iously concerned because I was not of the age required 
for a soldier (i. e. 16). At this time I was only ten or 
eleven years old, and during a part of the period from 
thence till I reached the required age, I was at school; 
but as soon as I was sixteen, which was in 1781, the year 
in which Cornwallis was taken, I entered on board a 
privateer schooner called the Hannah, which sailed out of 
Edenton on an eight weeks' cruise. 

"Our captain's name was Kit Gardiner, an Englishman 
by birth. William Gold, of Connecticut, was lieutenant, 
and Daniel Webb, of South Quay, Nausemond County, 
Virginia, was first prize master. 

"We sailed in March from Edenton and crossed the 
Ocracoke bar and soon was in the Gulf Stream with heavy 
surges. We sprung our bowsprit and put into Beaufort 
harbor and put another in. From there we sailed and 


cruised off Charleston, took four prizes and condemned 
three. The fourth was a Bermudean, a neutral, and he 
had two sets of consignments, one for a British port and 
the other for an American, by which means she was 
cleared ut Wilmington, N. C. 

"The first prize was a schooner from Cork, Ireland, to 
New York. She was taken first by a privateer out of 
Philadelphia and retaken by the Charleston frigate. This 
frigate was built in Newburyport, fifty miles eastward of 
Boston (I was shown the spot where it was said she was 
built) and was called the Boston. She happened to be in 
Charleston when the British took that city, and they 
changed her name and called her Charleston. After her 
capture she was their regular packet from Charleston to 
New York. 

"In our cruise, we took a schooner called the Lord Corn- 
wallis, laden with Governor Martin's effects. He was 
Governor of South Carolina and became traitor; and 
when laying in provisions against the siege, he caused 
the barrels to be filled with sand instead of pork. 

"The second prize was from New Hampshire laden with 
salt and garden seeds, such as peas, beans, etc. I was put 
aboard of her. Our place of rendezvous was Beaufort, N. 
C. Now as we took the vessel near Charleston, the port 
to which she was bound, it was reasonable to suppose 
that her provisions were nearly exhausted, which was the 

"With these, we undertook to make Beaufort, but in- 
stead of that, the first port was Newburyport, fifty miles 
eastward of Boston, and, sixteen days after, we were 
tossed and carried by contrary winds, going all around the 
different capes till we were off the Banks of Newfound- 
land and in view of the Agamenticus Hills, whose appear- 
ance, when seen at sea, is like three burly-headed clouds. 
We sailed along thence and arrived at Newburyport, sold 
our cargo (salt) at one dollar a bushel, and I received 
what the prize master saw fit to allow me, which was four 
dollars only." 


Governor Burton's Apparition. 

There is a well authenticated story connected with the 
death of Governor Hutchings G. Burton in 1836. The 
following account is the language of S. S. Alsop, who left 
some valuable notes on the history of the county: 

"Governor Burton had a summer home in the western 
part of the county near Ringwood named Rocky Hill, at 
which he was residing at the time of his death. He had 
bought a large tract of land in Texas and had started to 
see it, with a view of removing if he liked it. Reaching 
Salisbury, where he had some business in court, he met 
with his cousin, Robert Burton, of Lincoln County, and 
started to spend some time with him. They stopped at 
the Wayside Inn, with some other lawyers to spend the 
night, when he was taken with cramp and died within 
twenty-four hours. His last words were, *0h, my dear 
wife and children. Lord, receive my spirit.' He was 
buried in Unity Church yard, in Lincoln County, a Pres- 
byterian church, of which he was a member. 

"His wife had been on a visit and was returning to her 
home. Rocky Hill, which is on a high elevation — about 
dusk. She was driven in a carriage by her servant Wil- 
liam and had with her a grandchild, an infant, and a 
nurse. At the same time, she and William saw Governor 
Burton riding down the hill on a white horse, which he 
usually rode. Just then the infant cried and Mrs. Burton 
turned her head to see what was the matter. When she 
turned her head again expecting her husband to speak, 
the apparition had disappeared. She at once asked Wil- 
liam where was his master. He did not answer and she 
repeated the question. He then said, 'Hush, Missus,' and 
told her he had ridden on down the hill and disappeared. 
He could never speak of it afterwards. 

"On account of the slow mails of that day, Mrs. Burton 
did not hear of her husband's death until three weeks had 
passed, and found that the apparition had appeared at the 
very hour of his death." 


Historic Homes. 

In the southern end of the town of Halifax, near 
Quanky Creek, was built about the year 1765, the famous 
home of Willie Jones, known as **The Grove Place". The 
four front rooms were built of material brought from the 
wreck of the home of Robert Jones, father of Willie Jones, 
in Northampton County. This home of the elder Jones 
was known as "Jones' Castle" and had been built near 
the beginning of the eighteenth century of material said 
to have been brought from England. 

Willie Jones, the owner, was a man of considerable 
means, and greatly beautified not only the house but also 
the grounds. There was a race-track near the residence, 
which was used extensively by the residents of Halifax 
and by those who came from afar for the sport there af- 
forded. Willie Jones owned blooded horses and was the 
leader in that line of sports as well as in many other lines. 

The house is noted for having been, at different times, 
the headquarters of a part of three armies. During the 
Revolutionary war, Lord Cornwallis was entertained 
there while the British army was encamped in the town 
on its way to its Waterloo at Yorktown. In this house, 
also. Colonel Tarleton met his defeat in repartee at the 
hands of Mrs. Jones and her sister, Mrs. Ashe. 

During the war between the States, Colonel McRae, by 
invitation of the owner, had his regiment quartered there 
for some weeks. At the close of the war, the house was 
unoccupied and was taken possession of by a part of the 
Federal army of occupation. For some years after the 
Civil War, the house was unoccupied. 

Willie Jones, at his death, willed the home to his son, 
Willie W. Jones, who lived and died an old bachelor; and 
at his death, his sisters, Mrs. Eppes and Mrs. Burton, ac- 
quired possession. It remained in the Eppes family for 
many years and came to be called "The Eppes Home". It 
is now in decay, but an effort is being made by the Hali- 
fax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution 
to reclaim and rebuild it. 


It is sometimes erroneously called the "Paul Jones 
House". John Paul Jones did reside there for some time, 
but only as a guest or protege of the owner, Willie Jones. 

Another historic house is "Quanky", where Colonel 
Nicholas Long, of the Revolution, lived. It was located 
just across Quanky Creek from the "Grove Place". Not 
one stone is left upon another now, and not even the site 
can be definitely determined. Here, during the Revolu- 
tion, Colonel Long, who was, at the beginning of the war, 
in command of the Halifax regiment, entertained the high 
officials of the State and nation. 

"Rocky Hill", the summer home of Governor Hutch- 
ings G. Burton, near Ringwood, is still standing, owned 
now by Mr. S. Harrison. Governor Burton, during his 
life as a public man, lived in the town of Halifax at the 
Grove House ; but spent the greater part of the summers 
at "Rocky Hill", and was making it his permanent home 
at the time of his death in 1836. 

Besides these historic homes, there are other buildings 
of more or less note. The home of General William R. 
Davie is still standing in the town of Halifax. The "Con- 
stitution Building", where the first State Constitution of 
North Carolina was written, is in a dilapidated condition, 
as is the old Town Hall, where the Convention met in 
1776, both being in the town of Halifax. Here, also, is 
the Masonic Temple, a building venerable and historic. 
Between it and the river, on Main Street, is the site of the 
old Eagle Hotel, so famous during the Revolution and for 
years afterward. Now, hardly the foundations can be 



Halifax County was formed from Edgecombe County 
in 1758 and named in honor of Charles Montague, Earl of 
Halifax, who was, at the time. Secretary of the British 
Board of Trade. 

The first settlements were made on Roanoke river and 
Conoconara swamp about 1723, and on Quanky Creek near 
the same time. 

The first resistance to British oppression took place in 
Halifax County when armed men seized Corbin and Bodly, 
agents of Lord Granville, near Edenton and brought them 
forcibly to Enfield, in 1759, and lodged them in jail. 

Joseph Montford, the first and only Grand Master of 
Masons for the Continent of North America, lived in Hal- 

April 12, 1776, the Provincial Congress, in session in 
Halifax, passed the famous resolution instructing the 
delegates in the Continental Congress from North Caro- 
lina to vote for a National Declaration of Independence, 
antedating similar resolutions from other colonies. 

November 12, 1776, the first Constitutional Conven- 
tion of North Carolina met in Halifax and organized the 
State government. 

From 1776 to 1782, nearly every session of the General 
Assembly met in Halifax. 

Halifax County had one of the representatives in the 
Continental Congress for several years, Willie Jones. 

In the National Convention of 1787, Halifax County had 
two of the six representatives from North Carolina, Wil- 
lie Jones and William R. Davie. Jones, however, refused 
to serve and afterwards opposed the ratification of the 


Halifax County has had one ambassador to France, 
William R. Davie, and one member of the President's cab- 
inet, John Branch. 

The County has had the following members of the Na- 
tional House of Representatives : 

John B. Ashe 1787—1788 

John B. Ashe 1789—1793 

Willis Alston 1799—1815 

Hutchings G. Burton 1819—1825 

Willis Alston 1825—1831 

John Branch 1831—1833 

Jesse A. Bynum 1833—1841 

John R. J. Daniel 1841—1853 

L. O'B. Branch 1855—1861 

W. H. Kitchin 1879—1881 

James E. O'Hara (negro) 1883—1887 

W. W. Kitchin* 1897—1909 

Claude Kitchin 1901— 

(*Elected from Person Co.) 

One Senator in the United States Congress was from 
Halifax County, John Branch, who served from 1823 to 

The following Councillors of State were from Halifax 
County. Usually there were seven from the State at 
Large : 

Willie Jones 1781—1782 

Willie Jones 1787—1788 

John Branch 1793—1798 

John Branch 1801—1804 

Gideon Alston 1807—1830 

Isham Matthews 1834—1835 

Henry Joyner 1866 

Halifax County has given the following Governors to 
the State: 


Abner Nash 1780—1781 

William R. Davie 1798—1799 

John Branch 1817—1820 

Hutchings G. Burton 1825—1827 

W. W. Kitchin* 1909—1913 

(♦Elected from Person Co.) 

The following Comptrollers : 

John Craven 1784—1808 

James Grant 1827—1834 

The following Attorney-Generals were elected from Hal- 
ifax County: 

John Haywood 1791—1794 

Hutchings G. Burton 1810—1816 

William Drew 1816—1825 

John R. J. Daniel 1835—1840 

Spier Whitaker 1842—1846 

B. F. Moore 1848—1851 

The county has furnished two judges of the Supreme 
Court of North Carolina : 

Joseph J. Daniel 1832—1848 

Walter Clark 1889— 

Clark has been chief -justice since 1903. 
Five judges of the Superior Court have been chosen 
from Halifax: 

John Haywood 1794—1800 

Joseph J. Daniel 1816—1832 

Walter Clark 1885—1889 

Spier Whitaker 1889—1894 

W. R. Cox 1877—1879 

Halifax County furnished four brigadier-generals to the 
Confederate service. 


Date of Rank 

L. O'B. Branch (killed at Antietam) Nov. 16, 1861 

Junius Daniel (killed at Spottsylvania) .... Sept. 1, 1862 

Lawrence S. Baker July 23, 1863 

William R. Cox May 31, 1864 

David C. Clark held the rank of brigadier-general in the 
State militia and received his commission from the State 

In the Revolutionary war, the county furnished one 
brigadier-general in the Continental service, James Ho- 
gan. The "Father of the American Navy", John Paul 
Jones, was appointed Captain of the Ranger while resid- 
ing at Halifax. 

The last soil held by Cornwallis, in North Carolina, was 
in Halifax just before his retreat to Virginia where he 
was soon bottled up and captured. 

At the Eagle Hotel both President Washington and 
General Lafayette were entertained with elaborate cere- 
mony at different times. 

The Confederate iron-clad, the Ram Albemarle, was 
built near Scotland Neck, the first and only one built in 
the State. 

Halifax has furnished more Governors (five) than any 
other county in the State ; more attorneys-general (six) ; 
more members of Congress (fifteen) ; more brigadier- 
generals (six) than any other county. 

Soldiers from Halifax have always stood in the front 
line. They were among the first to march to Washing- 
ton's aid in 1776, among the first at Bethel, among the 
foremost at Gettysburg, and the last at Appomattox. 

There are twelve townships, as follows: Halifax, Wel- 
don, Roanoke Rapids, Littleton, Conoconara, Scotland 
Neck, Roseneath, Butterwood, Brinkleyville, Fau- 
cette. Palmyra, and Enfield. There are ten towns, Wel- 
don, Halifax, Enfield, Scotland Neck, Roanoke Rapids, 
Rosemary, Littleton, Hobgood, Palmyra, and HoUister. 




Unknown are most of the real builders of the county. 
The men, who with axe and hoe, smote the forests and 
turned a wilderness into towns, farms, and gardens, lie 
mostly in unremembered graves. Few of the thousands, 
who wrought unselfishly in carving the county from the 
heritage of the woods, achieved distinction. Very few 
can be mentioned in a story of their deeds. Pity it is 
that the pages of the Recording Angel are not accessible 
to the historian; for many a hero and heroine, whose 
deeds are, doubtless, recorded in letters of gold, will have 
to be passed by with not even a word. Such is the fate 
of the great masses of humanity that come into exis- 
tence, play for a brief time upon the world's stage, and 
pass off to an eternal oblivion. 'Tis but a few that catch 
the ear and attract the eye of men. 

In this part of the work, brief sketches of those who 
have had to do with the making of the county are given. 
Some, perhaps, who belong in the number, are not given 
for the reason that their footprints have become so dim 
that they could not be traced. Only those who have made 
a distinct impression upon the records of the county 
have been selected. The "uncrowned kings," who toiled 
and delved and dropped into unmarked graves, must be 
necessarily omitted. Even many of those who held rank 
and won honor among their fellows must go unrecorded. 



Among those who became prominent about the time 
of the formation of the county was Joseph Montford, 


who was born in England in 1724 and came to North 
Carolina in early life. He received a liberal education 
in his native land before coming to America, an asset 
which was worth much to him in shaping his career 
in the land of his adoption. 

Coming to North Carolina about 1750, Montford lo- 
cated on the north bank of Quanky Creek in what after- 
wards came to be called Halifax. Before Halifax County 
was formed and while the territory north of Fishing 
Creek was called Edgecombe Parish, he was elected Clerk 
of the Court of Edgecombe County and served in that 
capacity at Enfield, the County seat of Edgecombe, un- 
til Halifax County was organized in 1758, when he was 
elected Clerk of the Court of Halifax and was re-elected 
each year until his death. 

In addition to his duties as Clerk of the Court, he was 
called upon to serve in other capacities. When the Hali- 
fax Judicial District was formed in 1760, Montford was 
chosen Clerk of the District Court. He was, also, one of 
the commissioners of the town of Halifax in 1764, and 
member of the Colonial Assembly in 1762, 1764, 1766, 
1767 and 1773. He was chosen Colonel of the Halifax 
militia before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, 
and, in addition to other duties, he was made treasurer 
of the Northern Counties of the province in 1764. 

While serving in this last capacity, he came in direct 
antagonism with Governor Tryon, who was at the time 
<sngaged in his war with the Regulators. Tryon was 
•organizing and equipping his army ready for his cam- 
paign against the rebels of Orange County and needed 
money to pay his soldiers. He drew drafts upon Colo- 
nel Montford, without authority of the Assembly, which 
Montford refused to pay. Tryon blustered and threat- 
ened, but his drafts were not paid until the Assembly au- 
thorized their payment. 

An unusual honor came to Colonel Montford in March, 
1772, when he received a commission from the Duke of 
Beaufort, Grand Master of MaSons of Great Britain, ap- 


pointing him Provincial Grand Master of and for North 
America. So far as is known, this was the first and only- 
time such a signal honor was bestowed. This commis- 
sion was held until his death in 1776. 

Colonel Montford was a staunch patriot and stren- 
uously advocated separation from the mother country, 
but an incurable disease was preying upon him and he 
was unable to do anything to bring about the desired 
condition. He died March 25, 1776, about the time the 
Revolution was getting fully under way. His remains 
rest in the yard lof the Masonic temple at Halifax. 

In 1753, Colonel Montford married Priscilla Hill, 
daughter of Colonel Benjamin Hill, of Bertie County. 
There were three children. Henry married Sarah Ed- 
wards, but died without offspring. Mary married Willie 
Jones; Elizabeth married John Baptista Ashe. These 
two won fame in their tilt with Colonel Tarleton in 1781 
when the British were encamped at Halifax. 



John Baptista Ashe was the eldest son of Governor 
Samuel Ashe, of Rocky Point, New Hanover County, and 
grandson of John Baptista Ashe, who was presiding of- 
ficer of the Colonial Assembly in 1727. He was born in 
1748. As a young man, he was an enthusiastic admirer 
of Governor Tryon and was with him at the Battle of 
Alamance in 1771. Later, when the war of Revolution 
began, he joined the patriot cause and was at the Battle 
of Moore's Creek Bridge in February, 1776. He was ap- 
pointed captain in the Sixth Continental Regiment in 
April, 1776; major in January, 1777; and Lieutenant- 
Colonel in November, 1778. That regiment was, in that 
year, consolidated with the first; but when it was sur- 
rendered at Charleston in 1780, Colonel Ashe was not 
present and so escaped captivity. 


Under the command of General Jethro Sumner, Col- 
onel Ashe organized, at Salisbury, another regiment of 
Continentals, which did splendid service, under his com- 
mand, at the Battle of Eutaw Springs and at other 
points in South Carolina. He held this command until 
the end of the war. 

In 1776, he married Elizabeth Montford, daughter of 
Joseph Montford, of Halifax, and thereafter made that 
town his home. At the close of the Revoluti-on, he re- 
signed his commission in the army and entered heartily 
into the business life of the town and county. 

Entering politics, he was elected to the House -of Com- 
mons in 1784 and again in 1786, and became Speaker of 
that body. In 1787, he was a member of the Congress of 
the Confederation and State Senator in 1789. He had, 
like his brother-in-law, Willie Jones, lopposed the adop- 
tion of the Federal Constitution in 1788; but, after the 
amendments were practically secured, he favored its 
adoption, differing from Jones in that respect. 

At the Constitutional Convention of 1789, which met in 
Fayetteville, Colonel Ashe was a member from Halifax, 
and chairman of the Committee of the Whole, which had 
under consideration the Federal Constitution, and pre- 
sided over the deliberations of the convention whenever 
the constitution was being discussed. He was an enthus- 
iastic advocate of its final adoption, and was influential 
in securing a favorable vote for it. 

At the first election of members of the Federal Con- 
gress, Colonel Ashe was chosen to that body and re- 
elected in 1791, serving with distinction until 1793. In 
1795, he again represented Halifax in the General As- 
sembly, but retired to private life after his term of office 
expired. In 1802, he was elected Governor of the State, 
but when the committee from the General Assembly 
came to notify him of his election, they found him des- 
perately ill ; and in a few days thereafter he died without 
taking the oath of office. 

He left one son, Samuel Porter Ashe, whose descend- 



ants live in Tennessee. Colonel Ashe was an anti-Feder- 
alist, but later became an advocate >of the Constitution, 
and still later a Jeffersonian Democrat. 



In many respects, one of the most remarkable men of 
the Revolutionary period in North Carolina was Willie 
Jones, of Halifax. At one time, and through a number 
of years, he exerted more influence than any other man 
in the State; and stands out conspicuously as one of the 
really noted characters of that day. 

The Jones family originally came from Wales to Vir- 
ginia about the middle of the seventeenth century. Rob- 
ert, or Robin, Jones, third of the name, moved to North 
Carolina and became agent for Lord Granville. He was 
a lawyer of ability, educated in England where he at- 
tracted the attention of Granville, and was appointed 
Attorney-General for North Carolina in 1761. By his 
profession as attorney for the crown and agent of 
Granville's great domain, he rapidly acquired wealth 
and became probably the largest landed proprietor on 
the Roanoke. He married first Sarah Cobb in 1737 and 
was the founder of the Jones family of Halifax and 
Northampton Counties. 

Allen Jones, who held the rank .of brigadier-general 
of State militia during the Revolution, was born Decem- 
ber 24, 1739. Strange that the exact date of the birth 
of his more distinguished brother, Willie Jones, the sub- 
ject of this sketch, is not given ; but it was probably in 
1741. Nothing is known of the boyhood and youth of 
the two boys, except that they were educated in England 
at the celebrated Eton College, where they were under 
the charge of Lord Granville. After completing their 
education, the brothers returned to North Carolina and 
became planters, Allen making his home at "Mt. Gallant," 


Northamptx)n County, and Willie coming to Halifax about 
1763 and building "The Grove" house in Halifax town. 

The first appearance of Willie Jones on the political 
stage was as a member of the Provincial Congress that 
met in Newbern in 1774. He was also a member the next 
year when the Congress again met at Newbern, April 3, 

1775, and at Hillsboro, August 20. The two meetings of 
the Congress in Halifax, April, 1776, ' and November, 

1776, were the two most important sessions of that body. 
Jones was influential at both sessions. His election to 
all .of these conventions, which could not but be regarded 
as preliminary to a separation from the mother country, 
shows him to have been the leader of the patriot cause in 
Halifax County; and his home is said to have been the 
meeting place for consultation between the prominent 
patriots from every section of the province. 

At the Congress of November, 1776, he took a promi- 
nent part. He was a member of the committee on privi- 
leges and elections and, also, of the committee for draw- 
ing up a Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is said 
that these documents were written by Thomas Jones, of 
Chowan County, but with the assistance of Willie Jones. 
It was said of him that he could draw a bill in better 
language than any other man of his day. 

The Congress at Halifax organized what was known as 
the Council of Safety, consisting of representatives from 
each of the five military districts of the State. Willie 
Jones was elected president of the Council, and, therefore, 
was acting Governor of North Carolina until Richard 
Caswell was elected in December, 1776. 

At the sessions of the General Assembly of 1776 — 1782 
and 1788, he was a member either from the borough of 
Halifax or from the county. In 1787, he was elected a 
delegate to the convention which met in Philadelphia to 
adopt the Constitution of the United States ; but he de- 
clined to serve because he was not in sympathy with the 
purposes of the Convention. He was a member of the 
Continental Congress in 1780. 


One of the most spectacular events in his notable career 
was his opposition to the ratification of the national con- 
stitution by the Convention at Hillsboro. Jones was the 
leader of the opposition, and the manner in which he 
conducted the consideration of the measure was master- 
ly. When the vote was taken it was found that the 
ratification was lost by a vote of 184 to 84. This was his 
last appearance as a public man. 

He died in 1822 at his summer home near Raleigh and 
was buried in his garden, and the location of his grave 
has been lost. He has been honored by having a county, 
Jones, and a town, Jonesboro, named for him. 

Willie Jones married, in 1776, Mary Montford, a daugh- 
ter of Joseph Montford, who was a lady of many attrac- 
tions and superior qualities. Their children were Anne 
Ward, who married Joseph B. Littlejohn ; Sally, who mar- 
ried Hutchings G. Burton and, afterwards, Andrew Joy- 
ner; Patsy, who married John W. Eppes, and two sons, 
Robert Allen and Willie, who died unmarried. 

Willie Jones was no orator in the ordinary acceptation 
of that term. Though he held the Hillsboro Convention 
in the hollow of his hand, he made no speech of more than 
a few sentences. He swayed the convention by his person- 
al magnetism and his individual influence over the mem- 
bers. Feeling sure of his hold upon the convention, he 
made motion that the question of ratification be put with- 
out discussion, saying that he had made up his mind and 
that he supposed others had also, emphasizing the point 
that discussion would be a waste of time and an expense 
to the State. James Iredell, the leader of the Federalists, 
in reply, pointed out that discussion was involved in the 
very idea of the convention, and, if it had not been, the 
Assembly should have instructed the delegates to vote 
at their homes without coming together. Jones had the 
good sense to withdraw his motion, and the debate went 
on, participated in by Iredell, Davie, Johnston, and Mac- 
lain ; but when the vote was taken it was found that Jones' 
position was sustained. 


He left a lengthy will which is on record at Halifax, 
from which a few extracts are taken : 

"Now, as it is possible and indeed probable that my 
wife will not be satisfied with the provisions which I have 
hereinbefore made for her, and consequently could refuse 
to be bound by this very will and claim dower in and a 
distribution share in my estate (he then revokes all pro- 
visions made in her favor and continues) , and I leave to 
my wife to do better for herself, if she can, than I had 
hereinbefore done for her. I give to my wife the liberty 
of getting firewood for her own use on any of my lands, 
except my groves, and they are to be held sacred from 
the axe." 

Another provision of his will directs that, if he should 
die in Raleigh, he be buried by the side of his little girl 
who is buried there ; and, if he should die at Halifax, he be 
buried near his little girl in the orchard. About forty 
yards north of the site of the "Grove House" is a little 
thicket in which is the grave of the little child that is men- 

One other peculiarity of the will gives a trait of his char- 
acter: "My family and friends are not to mourn my 
death even by a black rag; on the contrary I give to my 
wife and three daughters each a Quaker colored silk to 
make them hoods on the occasion," 

With all of his peculiarities, Willie Jones was a remark- 
able man, and the county has not seen his like again. 



Though acting such a prominent part in the history of 
the State and Nation, William Richardson Davie was not 
born on Carolina soil. He was born at Egremont, Cum- 
berland County, England, June 24, 1756. He was brought 
to America by his father Archibald Davie in 1763 and 
left in charge of his maternal uncle, Rev. William Rich- 


ardson, a Presbyterian minister residing in the Wax- 
hans settlement, in South Carolina. Having no children, 
Mr. Richardson adopted the boy and made him heir to his 
estate. He was sent to school at the Queen's Museum, 
Charlotte, N. C, and afterwards to Princeton College, 
then in charge of Dr. Witherspoon. 

In the summer of 1776, he served with a party of stu- 
dents in the American army, and in the fall returned to 
college and took the degree of Bachelor of Arts with the 
first honors. His uncle died before Davie's return to 
the State. Having selected the law as his profession, he 
began its study in Salisbury. In 1777, he joined a de- 
tachment of 1200 troops under the command of Allen 
Jones, ordered to the defense of Charlotte; but the at- 
tack on that city being abandoned by the enemy, the de- 
tachment returned after reaching Camden. In 1779, he 
joined a troop of cavalry raised in the Salisbury district, 
of which William Barnett was elected captain and Davie, 
lieutenant. The troop soon after joined the Southern 
army and was attached to Pulaski's Legion. 

For distinguished service in the field, Davie was suc- 
cessfully promoted to the rank of captain and later to that 
of major. He took part in the Battle of Stono, in which he 
was severely wounded, which disabled him from any fur- 
ther service that year. While recuperating from his 
wound he secured his license to practice law ; but in 1780, 
he answered again the call to arms, and, having obtained 
leave of the General Assembly, he raised a troop of cav- 
alry and two companies of infantry, equipping them out 
of his own funds derived from his uncle's estate. 

While in command of this troop. Major Davie took a 
brilliant part in several encounters. He arrived with his 
command after the defeat of the Tories at Ramseur's Mill, 
and was dispatched by General Rutherford in pursuit 
of the fugitives. He took an active part in the Battle of 
Hanging Rock, of which there is a good narrative in 
Davie's own words in Wheeler's History of North Caro- 
lina. After the Battle of Hanging Rock, Major Davie car- 


ried his wounded to Charlotte for surgical attention and 
set out to join the army of General Gates at Rugeley's 
Mill. When he came within a few miles of Camden, 
S. C, he met General Gates himself in full retreat. Gates 
ordered Davie to fall back to Charlotte, saying that Tarle- 
ton's dragoons were in pursuit and would soon be upon 
them. Davie's reply was characteristic. He said, "My 
men are accustomed to Tarleton and do not fear him." 
He then hurried on toward Camden. Meeting General 
Huger soon after, Davie asked him how far Gates' orders 
should be obeyed. Huger answered,"Just as far as you 
choose, for you will never see him again." Finding the 
rout complete. Major Davie retraced his steps and took 
post at Charlotte. 

On September 20, 1780, Davie having been promoted 
to the rank of Colonel with instructions to raise a regi- 
ment .of cavalry, with 150 dragoons fell upon about 400 
of the enemy at Wahab's Plantation and routed them, 
killing and wounding about 60 and capturing ninety-six 
horses and 120 stands of arms. This remarkable feat of 
arms was accomplished after a ride of sixty miles, and 
all done within twenty-four hours. Shortly after this he 
was joined by Sumner and Davidson with about 1000 
poorly equipped militia. 

When Cornwallis advanced on Charlotte, September 26, 
1780, Colonel Davie had only 150 mounted men with him 
and a few volunteers under Major Graham. Posting one 
company near the Court House, where the men would be 
sheltered by a stone wall, and two others where they were 
sheltered by dwellings, he repulsed three attacks of the 
British and held his ground until he was outflanked and 
was forced to retreat. The coolness and skill of Colonel 
Davie, in this affair, in which with a handful of men, he 
kept the whole British army at bay for hours, have been 
highly praised. After the disastrous defeat at King's 
Mountain, Cornwallis retired into South Carolina follow- 
ed by Davie's command, that harassed his rear guards no 


In December, 1780, General Nathanael Greene took 
command of the Southern army at Charlotte. Greene at 
once appointed Davie Commissary-General, which he ac- 
cepted with reluctance because he regretted leaving act- 
ive military service, and began his new duties in January, 
1781. He was with the army of the South for five months, 
being present at the Battles of Guilford Court House, 
Hobkirk's Hill, the evacuation of Camden, and the Siege 
of Ninety-Six. In the summer of 1781, Colonel Davie was 
sent by General Greene as a confidential messenger to 
the General Assembly of North Carolina for the purpose 
of representing the wants of his army, a mission, which 
he, by reason of his tact and knowledge of the members, 
successfully accomplished, securing a liberal contribution 
of men and supplies. 

In July, 1781, he became Commissary-General of North 
Carolina with headquarters at Halifax, which position 
he held until the close of the war. During this period, 
the credit of the State had fallen so low that Davie was 
obliged to pledge his individual credit in order to ob- 
tain supplies. It was during this period also that the 
Roanoke lands furnished supplies for nearly the whole of 
Greene's army. 

After the close of the war. Colonel Davie, in February, 
1783, resumed the practice of law and located in the town 
of Halifax, and about the same time married Sarah Jones, 
the daughter of General Allen Jones, of Mount Gallant, 
Northampton County. 

There were seven judicial districts in the State at that 
time and Colonel Davie practiced law in all of them ex- 
cept the Morganton district. He was a brilliant advo- 
cate and soon built up a large and lucrative practice. It 
was said of him that, in the fifteen years he was at the 
bar, there was not a capital case in the State in which he 
was not retained by the defense. One of the most famous of 
the capital cases, in which he appeared, was the trial of 
the celebrated Tory, Colonel Samuel Bryan, for treason, 
at Salisbury. Davie and Bryan had been enemies on the 


battlefield. They had met in mortal conflict at Hanging 
Rock. Davie had done all that he could to destroy Bryan 
and his command; but now, peace had come and Davie 
was employed by Bryan to defend him. True to his client, 
Davie left no stone unturned to clear him; but the pre- 
judice against the Tory was too great and Bryan was 
convicted. Later, however, he was pardoned by the Gov- 

In 1787, Davie was a delegate from North Carolina to 
the Constitutional Convention, which met in Philadelphia, 
in May, to prepare a Federal instrument of government. 
He was then thirty-one years old, but, by his eloquence 
and knowledge, made a decided impression upon the con- 
vention. A critical question before the convention was 
the equal representation of the large and small states in 
the Senate, the large states contending for representa- 
tion according to population and the small states for equal 
representation. North Carolina was then one of the large 
states. In order to avoid a disruption of the Convention, a 
committee of one from each state was appointed to de- 
cide the question, and Davie was appointed as the mem- 
ber of that committee from North Carolina. In this mat- 
ter. Colonel Davie voted with the small states, and, by a 
majority of one, secured for the small states equal repre- 
sentation in the senate. He left the Convention a few 
days before adjournment in obedience to the call of a 
client, and for that reason his name does not appear 
among the signers of that document. 

He was active in the State Convention of 1788, at Hills- 
boro, in advocacy of the ratification of the Federal Con- 
stitution, but it was defeated then under the leadership of 
Willie Jones. After the Constitution was ratified at Fay- 
etteville the next year. President Washington tendered 
Colonel Davie the appointment of District Judge, but it 
was declined. 

He represented the borough of Halifax in the House of 
Commons in 1786, 1787, 1789, 1791, 1798, 1794, 1796, and 
1798. While a member of the General Assembly, he la- 


bored unceasingly for the establishment of the State Uni- 
versity, and finally secured the act of incorporation in 
1789. He was the real founder of that great institution, 
and as Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina laid the 
corner stone of the first building in 1793. 

In view of the probability of war with France, Colonel 
Davie was appointed by Governor Spaight, in 1794, 
Major-General of the third State division of militia; and, 
in 1798, Congress having provided a provisional army of 
10,000 men, he was appointed by President Adams Brig- 
adier-General and confirmed by the Senate on July 1, 
1798. In the same year, he was elected Governor and in- 
augurated, December 27. 

On June 1, 1799, he was appointed by President Adams 
Ambassador to France, and, on September 10, resigned 
the governorship to accept this foreign post of duty. He 
was one of the three men to draw up a treaty with the 
French government, which was ratified by Congress, 
September 10, 1800. General Davie was the most dis- 
tinguished looking man in that trio of eminent men. An 
eyewitness of the meeting of the American embassy with 
the French Emperor said, "I could but remark that Bona- 
parte, in addressing the American Legation at his Levees, 
seemed to forget that Governor Davie was second in the 
mission, his attention being more particularly to him." 

General Davie returned from France in 1801, and, in 
1802, he was appointed by President Jefferson Commis- 
sioner on the part of the United States government for 
the settlement of the affairs between the State of North 
Carolina and the Tuscarora Indians. He met the agents 
of the State and the Indian Chiefs at Raleigh, and the 
treaty was signed December 4, 1802, by virtue of which 
the remnant of the Tuscaroras, who had continued to hold 
their lands in the "Indian Woods," removed to New York 
in June, 1803. 

In the spring of 1803, General Davie was prevailed 
upon to become a candidate for Congress against Willis 
Alston, who had recently abandoned the Federalist party 


and had become a disciple of Thomas Jefferson. Davie 
made no canvass, but party spirit ran high. He was 
charged with being an aristocrat and being opposed to 
Jefferson, and on election day he was defeated. This was 
his last appearance in a public capacity. 

Having lost his wife, soon after his return from France 
and having met defeat at the polls, he retired altogether 
from public life. In November, 1805, he removed from 
Halifax to Tivoli, an estate he had in South Carolina just 
across the line, where he spent the remainder of his life in 
ease and dignity. 

In his retirement, however, he was not forgotten by his 
countrymen. He was appointed by President Madison 
Major-General in the United States army during the War 
of 1812 and confirmed by the senate, March 2, 1813 ; but 
he declined the appointment. 

General Davie died November 18, 1820, and was buried 
at Waxhaw Churchyard just across the river from his 
plantation. Governor Gaston, of South Carolina, who is 
said to have written his epitaph, called him "a great man 
in an age of great men." 

His memory is perpetuated by the name of one of the 
counties in the State and by the name of a poplar on the 
campus of the State University. 


James Hogan was prominent in North Carolina history 
during the Revolution; but there is very little known 
about his early life. He was born in Ireland, but the date 
and place are unknown. Nor is it known when he came to 
the New World. He was a scion of that sturdy Irish 
stock that was restive under British domination, and 
had come to America to escape its tyranny. It is not 
known when he came to North Carolina, but he found 
his way to Halifax County, in early life, and made his 


home about two miles from the present town of Hob- 
good. In October 3, 1751, he was married to Ruth Nor- 
fleet, a young woman of that section of Halifax County. 

When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April 
4, 1776, James Hogan appeared as one of the delegates 
from the county. He was enthusiastically in favor of the 
resolution for independence passed by that body on 
April 12. He was again a delegate to the Provincial 
Congress and Constitutional Convention that met in 
Halifax, November 12, 1776. But early in that session, 
he was elected Colonel of the Seventh North Carolina 
Continental Regiment; and at once resigned member- 
ship in the Congress. 

After the organization of the regiment, and after be- 
ing disciplined in the school of the soldier at Halifax^ 
Colonel Hogan led his troops northward, along with 
other regiments that had been mobilized at Halifax, 
and joined General Washington in time to take part in 
the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. After 
these two disastrous battles, Washington dispatched 
Colonel Hogan to North Carolina to raise reinforce- 
ments. Having established a recruiting station at Hali- 
fax, Hogan soon had another regiment of 600 men un- 
der arms. He led them North and joined Washington 
at Valley Forge. He was with the Army of the North 
during 1778 and 1779. 

When General Robert Howe was promoted to the 
rank of Major-General, the General Assembly of North 
Carolina recommended Colonel Thomas Clark, of New- 
bern, for the vacancy; but General Washington said 
that Hogan, on account of his conspicuous gallantry at 
Germantown, was entitled to the honor. He was, there- 
fore, elected and commissioned brigadier-general, Janu- 
ary 9, 1779, and continued to serve with the Army of the 
North, his brigade consisting of the four North Carolina 
regiments then with General Washington. 

In February, 1780, the tide of war having rolled south- 
ward, Hogan's brigade was sent to the relief of General 


Lincoln at Charleston, S. C. The brigade passed through 
Halifax on its long march from Philadelphia to Charles- 
ton, and reached its destination in April, finding that Gen- 
eral Lincoln was shut up in Charleston with less than 
twelve hundred men, Hogan joined him with about fif- 
teen hundred regulars, but he was unable to restore con- 
fidence. Lincoln surrendered, May 12; and with one 
stroke of bad fortune, General Hogan and nearly the 
whole of the North Carolina Continentals became prison- 
ers of war. Of the 1800 regulars, surrendered at this 
time, the North Carolina line numbered over 1200. With 
the exception of some officers, who were at home on fur- 
lough and several troops of militia, the entire fighting- 
force of North Carolina was put out of the conflict. Hali- 
fax County was struck hard by this blow. 

General Hogan and his brigade were imprisoned at 
Haddrell's Point, S. C, near the present location of the 
town of Mount Pleasant. There, Hogan and his brigade 
endured extreme suffering on account of the lack of food 
and the ravages of disease. Even permission to fish was 
denied the men thus imprisoned, and they were more than 
once threatened with deportation to the West Indies. Once 
was General Hogan offered a parole to return home ; but 
seeing the misery of his men, he indignantly refused the 
parole unless the rank and file were to have the same 

At that point, General Hogan disappears from history. 
It is certain that he died in this prison camp at Haddrell's 
Point, and now lies buried, probably, where the busy feet 
of the people of Mount Pleasant go tramping over his 
remains. Chief Justice Clark says, "History affords no 
more striking incident of devotion to duty, and North 
Carolina should erect a tablet to his memory and of those 
who perished there with him." 




Another man, who has left an impress upon the coun- 
ty and yet is comparatively unknown, is Samuel Weldon, 
in honor of whom the town of Weldon is named. The 
place and date of his birth are unknown ; but he became 
prominent in the affairs of Halifax soon after the forma- 
tion of the county in 1758. 

In 1776, the Provincial Congress, in session in Halifax, 
elected Weldon Major of the county militia. On Dec. 23, 
1776, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, 
and, on April 24, 1778, he became Colonel. His rapid pro- 
motion would indicate ability and popularity. This last 
rank, he was, soon afterward, forced to resign on account 
of ill health. He retired to his farm on the Roanoke river 
near where the present tov/n of Weldon is. 

He was a member of the Provincial Congress of 1776, 
that met in Halifax, and it is known that he exercised in- 
fluence of note in that body. For some years he held the 
position of Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Ses- 
sions. Not much else is known of his public services. His 
will was probated in 1782. 



John Haywood was born in Halifax County, March 16, 
1762. He was a son of Egbert Haywood, an officer of the 
Revolution and a representative from the County in the 
Provincial Congress of November, 1776, being elected to 
fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of James Ho- 
gan Colonel of the Seventh Regiment of Continentals. He 
also represented the county in the House of Commons in 

But little is known of the early life of John Haywood. 


He was but thirteen years old when the war of indepen- 
dence began, and, on account of his youth, took no active 
part in the struggle that followed. Near the close of the 
war, however, young Haywood became attached to the 
ptaff of a North Carolina officer, though the name of the 
officer is unknown. Wheeler, in his "Reminiscences," has 
the following to say of him : 

"From the distracted condition of the country, at this 
time, the opportunities to acquire an education were few ; 
but young Haywood entered the profession of the law, in 
which he was destined to become distinguished, under 
many disadvantages. To the lack of a systematic educa- 
tion was added an ungainly person and an unpleasantly 
harsh voice. Possessing, however, great determination, 
an ardent love of study, and a lofty ambition, he overcame 
those disadvantages, and soon rose to the head of the 

In many of his legal battles, he was often pitted against 
William R. Davie. Chief-Justice Walter Clark has this 
to say in an address delivered some years ago : "It is stat- 
ed of him (Davie), in comparison with his great legal ri- 
val, John Haywood, that while the latter carefully pre- 
pared every point, Davie would size the strong points of 
the case and throw his whole strength upon them." 

His success as a lawyer was shown by his election, in 
1791, as Attorney-General of the State, when he was not 
yet thirty years old. He held this position until 1794 
when he was elected Judge of the Superior Court to suc- 
ceed Samuel Spencer, deceased. In both of these positions 
of trust and responsibility, Haywood displayed unusual 
ability and efficiency. 

In 1800, however, his career on the bench was terminat- 
ed in a remarkable way. James Glasgow, Secretary of 
State, was indicted for issuing fraudulent land warrants. 
The indictment was drawn by Attorney-General Blake 
Baker, a native of Halifax but at that time living in Edge- 
combe County. In drawing the bill of indictment, Baker 
sought the counsel of Haywood. Before the trial came 


oif, Glasgow approached Haywood with a retainer's fee 
of one thousand dollars. Judge Haywood at once resigned 
his position on the bench and accepted Glasgow's offer. In 
the trial, however, Glasgow was convicted ; but Haywood 
moved an arrest of judgment alleging thirteen errors in 
the bill of indictment, which he had assisted the attorney- 
general to formulate. 

On account of his conduct in this case, Haywood be- 
came the victim of a torrent of criticism. While there 
was no moral turpitude in what he did, the public never 
forgave him for what seemed so. Shortly afterward, he 
removed to Tennessee and settled on a farm near Nash- 
ville, where he lived and died. 

During his residence in Halifax County, he lived near 
Crowell's, where he taught a law school. His memory is 
perpetuated by Haywood's Chapel because he gave the 
land on which the church was built. After leaving Hali- 
fax, Haywood resided for some years in Franklin Coun- 
ty about six miles north of Louisburg. Just before mov- 
ing to Tennessee, he lived in Raleigh. 

In Tennessee, Haywood began almost a new career. 
He soon became one of the leading lawyers of that new 
State. Often he was matched with Felix Grundy, one of 
the most noted ^ orators of the west, and he always ap- 
peared to good advantage. He continued at the bar in 
Tennessee, building up a lucrative practice until 1812, 
when he was elevated to the Superior Court bench. Six 
years later he became Judge of the Supreme Court of 
Tennessee, and held that position until his death in 1826. 

Judge Haywood's memory is perpetuated in Tennessee 
by the name of one of the Counties in that State. Hay- 
wood County, North Carolina, is named in honor of John 
Haywood, of Edgecombe County, for forty years State 




Joseph John Alston, father of the subject of this sketch, 
came to Halifax County about the year 1730. He came 
from what is now Gates County, where his father, John 
Alston lived. Later he married a daughter of Willis Wil- 
son, of Norfolk, Va., and from that union was born, in 
1750, Willis Alston, usually referred to as Willis Alston. 
St., to distinguish him from his more celebrated son of 
the same name. 

Willis Alston was a strong and sturdy character. He 
early became a leader among his neighbors and friends 
and even in his teens, he was a champion of the rights of 
Americans against the growing tyranny of England. Dur- 
ing the Stamp Act troubles and the discontent over the 
tea tax, Alston was an undaunted patriot for one so young. 

When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April 4. 
1776, he was a member from the county, and took an active 
part in the passage of the famous independence resolution, 
which has been read around the world. He was also a 
member of the Constitutional Convention of November 
12, 1776, and was an important factor in the framing of 
the first State Constitution. 

Upon the organization of the State militia at the ses- 
sion of the Provincial Congress that met in Halifax at the 
same time with the Constitutional Convention, Willis Als- 
ton was elected Colonel ; Samuel Weldon, Lieutenant-Colo- 
nel ; John Whitaker, First Major ; James Allen, Second 
Major. Alston, however, resigned in 1778 and was suc- 
ceeded by Weldon. 

There is no record of the war service of Willis Alston 
more than the bare mention of his election as Colonel of 
the Halifax regiment. It is more than probable that this 
regiment was used throughout the war as a garrison for 
the town of Halifax and saw no active service in battle. 




Willis Alston, son of the first of the name, was born on 
his father's farm, in the upper part of the county, in 1770. 
He was given as liberal an education as the exigencies of 
the times would permit. In spite of disadvantages along 
that line, by close application and diligent study, he be- 
came one of the best informed men of his day. 

He early turned his attention to politics, and, in 1790, 
when he was just twenty-one years of age, he was elected 
to the House of Commons, and served in that body during 
the sessions of 1790, 1791, and 1792. In 1794, he was 
elected to the Senate and served in that branch of the 
General Assembly two years. Again, having served many 
years in Congress, he returned to the House of Commons 
in 1819 and again in 1820, 1821, 1823, and 1824. 

Alston early became an earnest admirer of Thomas 
Jefferson and an ardent disciple. As a Republican (Dem- 
ocrat), he was elected to the Federal Congress in 1799, 
and was biennially reelected until 1815, when he retired 
from Congress for ten years and was again elected in 1825, 
serving until 1831. 

In 1803, he was opposed for re-election to Congress by 
William R. Davie, who had recently returned from France. 
It was thought that the great popularity of Davie would 
win the election; but the result showed a majority for 
Alston. This was, perhaps, his greatest political triumph. 
During the agitation preceding the war of 1812, Alston 
was distinctly a war advocate, because he thought Eng- 
land had violated every right of nations. 

Willis Alston was married twice, first to Pattie Moore, 
of Halifax County, and second to Sallie Madeline Potts, of 
Wilmington. There were no children of the first mar- 
riage, but of the second the following were born : Charles 
J. P., who married Mary Janet Clark, whose oldest son is 
Dr. Willis Alston, of Littleton; Ariellah, who married 


Colonel James B. Hawkins ; Leonidas ; Missouri, who mar- 
ried Archibald Davis Alston; and Edgar. Willis Alston 
died in Halifax, April 10, 1837. He served in the Federal 
Congress longer than any other man from Halifax County, 
and, while not brilliant, he was a safe and wise represen- 


Nicholas Long, the founder of the Long family of 
Halifax County, came to North Carolina when a young 
man and settled near what is now the town of Halifax. 
The exact date of his coming to the county is unknown, 
and the date and place of his birth are likewise obscure. 
Shortly after coming to Halifax, Long built his country 
home, "Quanky," which was just across Quanky Creek 
from the "Grove House." 

He is mentioned in Wheeler's "Reminiscences" as being 
a wealthy planter and his home as being the headquarters 
for prominent men who from time to time visited Hali- 
fax. It is said that, when President Washington visited 
Halifax on his tour of the South, he stopped with Colonel 
Long for several days. In similar ways the reputation of 
"Quanky" came to be more than State wide. 

Before John Harvy issued his call for the first Provin- 
cial Congress to meet in Newbern, August 24, 1774, he 
came to Halifax to consult with Willie Jones and Nicholas 
Long. Both Jones and Long were at the time members 
of the Provincial Assembly ; and when the Congress was 
called, they were elected members and served in the 
double capacity at Newbern. Long was also a member of 
the Second Provincial Congress at Newbern the next year 
and also at Hillsboro. At the latter Congress, the State 
was divided into military districts, each district to raise 
and equip five hundred men. Nicholas Long was ap- 
pointed Colonel of the Halifax district. 

A grant of land was made to Robert Long in Halifax 


County, but it is not known whether he was an ancestor 
of Nicholas Long. The grant is dated 1725. 

Later, in the progress of the struggle for independence, 
each county was empowered to raise and arm a regiment 
of minute men, and the position of Commissary-General 
of the State forces was created. Colonel Long was chosen 
to this latter position. He personally superintended, to- 
gether with his wife, the work shops on his own farm for 
the purpose of manufacturing implements of war, ammu- 
nition, clothing, and other supplies for the soldiers. 

Mrs. Long possessed great energy and firmness with 
mental power of no common order. Her praises were the 
theme of conversation among the officers, who knew her. 
She died at the advanced age of eighty leaving a numer- 
ous offspring. 

Colonel Long held the position of Commissary-General 
of the State troops until 1781, when he resigned and was 
succeeded by William R. Davie. The last public service 
he rendered, of which we have any record, was in the sen- 
ate the sessions of 1785 and 1786. As a legislator, or sol- 
dier, or planter, Colonel Long proved his worth and has 
left a worthy name to his numerous descendants. 



Very little is known of the early life of the subject of 
this sketch. He lived in that portion of the county near 
the old Conocanara Church. Receiving a limited educa- 
tion, he became a lawyer and practiced in the courts of the 
Halifax Judicial District, just before and during the Rev- 
olutionary War. 

He was a member of the State Senate four consecutive 
terms, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781. He was a man of consider- 
able influence and strength of character as is shown by 
the commanding position he took in the General Assem- 
bly. When the Board of War was created in 1781 to direct 
the war in North Carolina, Davis was elected as a mem- 


ber of the Board. The other two members were Alexan- 
der Martin, who afterwards became Governor, and John 
Penn, one of the signers of the Declaration of Indepen- 

On account of the fact that the Board of War did not 
have its duties clearly defined, it was in frequent collision 
with the Governor on questions of jurisdiction, and was 
soon discontinued. General Davie, who had business be- 
fore the Board several times without its being settled to 
his satisfaction, severely criticised the personnel of it. He 
said, in speaking of it : 

"Nothing could be more ridiculous than the manner in 
which it (the Board) was filled. Martin, being a war- 
rior- (?) of great fame, was placed at its head. Penn, who 
was only fit to amuse children, and Davis, who knows 
nothing but a game of whist, were placed on the Board." 

General Davie was no doubt prejudiced, but the Board 
was soon afterwards discontinued and Davis retired to 
private life. 



Only fragments of information regarding John Brad- 
ford have come down to us. He was one of the early set- 
tlers in the Enfield section, and built a home about two 
miles southwest of that town. He was living there at the 
time the county was organized in 1758, and had command- 
ing influence in shaping its policies. He was a man of 
natural ability and high character. 

In 1766, he was elected to represent the county in the 
Colonial Assembly and re-elected in 1767, and 1768. He 
was, therefore, a member of the law-making body of the 
Province during a very critical period of its existence. The 
third Provincial Congress at Hillsboro, in August, 1775, 
appointed John Bradford a member of the Committee of 
Safety for the District of Halifax. He served in that ca- 
pacity as long as there was need for the services of such 
a committee. In 1776, he was a member of both sessions 


of the Provincial Congress that met at Halifax. The next 
year he was elected to represent Halifax County in the 
State Senate, as the first from the County. 

After the close of the Revolution, he was the Presiding 
Justice of the County Court, and held this position many 
years. He died about 1786 and left a number of children, 
one of them, Henry, became a minister and gave his name 
to Bradford's Church. Most of his descendants left the 
County and went South. 



The most famous man connected with the history of 
Halifax County is John Paul Jones, the Revolutionary 
hero, who won the title of "Father of the American Navy," 
He was born in Kirkbean, Scotland, July 6, 1747, and died 
in Paris, France, July 18, 1792. He was the youngest son 
of John Paul, a gardener, and was christened John Paul, 
the same name as his father ; but after coming to Amer- 
ica, for reasons that are apparent, he added the surname 
Jones. His mother was Jean Macduff, the daughter of a 

Having lived near the sea during his boyhood days, it 
was natural that he should follow life on the sea. He 
began early, being apprenticed at the age of twelve to a 
ship owner, and by the time he was a little beyond man's 
estate he had sailed all over the North Atlantic in trading, 
smuggling, and slaving vessels, and had climbed to the 
top of his calling, the Captain's berth. 

In the meantime, his brother William had settled in Vir- 
ginia, on the banks of the Rappahannock river as man- 
ager of the estate of William Jones, from whom William 
Paul, it is said, had inherited some land. William Paul 
died in 1773, and John Paul came to Virginia that year to 
take charge of his brother's property. 

Previous to that time, John Paul had met with varied ex- 
periences on the sea. He had, in the spring of 1770, flogged 


a mutinous carpenter on board the merchant ship, John, 
of which he was master. Shortly after the flogging, 
which was light, the man died and John Paul had to face 
the charge of having caused his death. He was, however, 
acquitted. Soon after this occurrence, a mutiny broke out 
among the crew of the John, and John Paul, in defending 
himself from them, was forced to kill their leader. On ac- 
count of this unfortunate circumstance, he was obliged 
to resign his position as master of the trader. Then it was 
he came to Virginia. 

In the Mentor Magazine of October 16, 1916, the follow- 
ing paragraphs, in connection with John Paul Jones oc- 

"One day in the early part of the year 1775, Willie 
Jones, a planter of North Carolina, came into the little 
town of Halifax from his estate, and found a young man 
sitting on a bench in front of the tavern, who seemed to 
be in the deepest throes of melancholy. 

'What is your name?' he asked him. 
T have none', was the answer. 
'Where is your home?' he asked. 
'I have none', was the reply. 

"He then talked with him a little further, and invited 
him to share his home. The dejected stranger was none 
other than John Paul, who later took the name of Jones 
with the permission of Willie Jones ; and from that time 
on he used the name of John Paul Jones. Later he dropped 
his first name and used simply Paul Jones on his visiting 

At the "Grove," it is supposed, John Paul Jones so- 
journed for a year or more, and was treated with the 
greatest courtesy. It was here that he became acquainted 
with Joseph Hewes, who was a delegate from North Car- 
olina to the Continental Congress, and served on what is 
now called the Naval Committee. The two immediately 
became intimate friends, and Hewes used his influence in 
having John Paul Jones commissioned in the Continental 


Navy as an officer. Later, by the same influence, he be- 
came Captain of the United States Gunboat Ranger. 

Although John Paul Jones was identified with Halifax 
but a short time, his sudden rise to eminence is traceable 
directly to his association with Willie Jones and through 
him with Joseph Hewes. All he needed was, at the psy- 
chological moment, to be brought to the attention of 
Congress and to be given an opportunity to display his 
wonderful talent. To Willie Jones and Joseph Hewes be- 
long the credit of having been chiefly instrumental in do- 
ing this. To those two eminent North Carolinians is given 
the honor of having "discovered" John Paul Jones. 

Reference has already been made, in this work, to the 
splendid achievements of John Paul Jones. His brilliant 
victories on the ocean together with his illuminating views 
as to the building and equipping of a defensive and an ag- 
gressive fleet have justly won for him the title of "Father 
of the American Navy." He was worthy of all the honor 
that came to him and more. Of natural brightness of in- 
tellect, of pleasing manners, and of tireless application, 
he had made himself an accomplished man of the world. 
With little advantage of an education in the schools, he 
taught himself until he could speak French as his mother 
tongue, and was equally at ease in Spanish. 

His daring, his defiance of great odds, his harassing of 
the British commerce, his capture of numerous prizes, his 
influence in securing France as an ally, all make a thrill- 
ing story that leads us to see what a capable man he was 
and what a wonderful genius Halifax County gave to the 

After the Revolution, he was at different times in the 
service of the Prussian government and of Russia. His 
last days were spent in France, where he died and was 
buried. After lying in French soil for more than one hun- 
dred years, his body was disinterred in 1905 and brought 
to America. It now rests in a crypt in the Chapel of the 
Naval Academy at Annapolis. 

Albert Bushnell Hart, the eminent American historian, 
has the following to say in praise of John Paul Jones : 


"Jones was still a young man, barely forty-five years 
old, at the time of his death ; and his meteoric career was 
compressed into the fourteen years between 1775 and 
1789. For the paling of his glory in later years, he was 
in part to blame. His killing of the mutineer threw a 
cloud upon his early life. He was gay, extravagant, over 
fond of the ladies, and often in money difficulties. Be- 
ginning so young, shooting up so rapidly, he made ene- 
mies that followed him to the end. A man as eager, as 
adventurous, as impetuous as John Paul Jones was bound 
to outrun cooler and more sagacious men like Franklin 
and John Adams. 

"Against these faults is to be set the amazing bril- 
liancy of Jones's character and deeds. His successes were 
not those of a dashing adventurer who took all the chances 
and was usually lucky in winning. Jones's splendid re- 
sults came from his careful preparation, his personal in- 
terest in his men, his ability to execute naval manoeuvers 
at the precise moment. He was a naval genius also in his 
constructive plans. Throughout his life, Jones showed a 
wonderful spirit of organization. He was one of the first 
men to suggest a plan for the systematic building and use 
of the American Navy, which would have been much to 
the advantage of the nation had it been followed." 



Abraham Hodge was born in the State of New York in 
1755 and died in Halifax, August 3, 1805. During the 
Revolution he conducted the Whig press of Samuel Lon- 
don of New York. For a time, he was in charge of Wash- 
ington's traveling press while the army was stationed at 
Valley Forge. He was thus employed, during those dark 
days, in disseminating Republican principles and cheering 
the drooping spirits of his countrymen. 

Soon after the close of hostilities, he came to Halifax 


County and established a printing office; and in 1784 or 
1785, he was elected public printer by the General As- 
sembly. He held that position until 1798 and discharged 
the duties of the office with ability and satisfaction. Dur- 
ing that time, Hodge conducted his printing plant at Hali- 
fax, and at the same time had presses in Fayetteville, 
Newbern, and Edenton. July 23, 1793, he began, at Hali- 
fax, the publication of the North Carolina Journal, a news- 
paper that reflected the Federalist views of government. 
The State was Jeffersonian, and Halifax County particu- 
larly so at the time. Hodge was, therefore, displaced as 
public printer in 1798 and Joseph Gales elected to succeed 

Undaunted, however, by this political rebuke, Hodge 
continued to edit his newspaper, the North Carolina Jour- 
nal, as his conscience dictated, and the interests of the 
State, in his opinion, required. He was conspicuous as a 
man of natural ability and of acquired learning. He was 
one of the first men in the State to contribute to the 
library of the University of North Carolina, and there- 
after until his death he was regular in his gifts to it. 

Some months before his demise in 1805, he made a will 
in which he made his partner, William Boylan, his execu- 
tor, and bequeathed to him his printing plants and other 
property. Hodge had been public printer for fifteen years 
previous to 1798, and had otherwise done a great work. 
He had three printing plants in the State, and was editor 
of one of the most influential newspapers in the South, the 
North Carolina Journal, published at Halifax. 



John Branch was born November 4, 1782, about two 
and a half miles northwest of Enfield, on what is still 
known as the Branch plantation. His father, also named 
John, took an active part in the Revolution, and was spe- 


cially vigilant in running down the few Tories in the 
county. While sheriff of the county, in 1776, he took two 
Tories to Smithfield before the Council of Safety for trial. 
He also represented the county in the House of Commons 
in 1781, 1782, 1787, and 1788. 

But little is known of the boyhood of John Branch. 
After being prepared for college, he entered the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina, from which he graduated in 1801. 
During his college career, he became well acquainted with 
Thomas H. Benton, the great North Carolinian who rose 
to eminence in Missouri, and who was an alumnus of the 
University of North Carolina. Benton, in his "Thirty 
Years in Congress," says: "I was particularly grieved at 
this breach between Mr. Branch and the President, having 
known him from boyhood, been school-fellows together, 
and being well acquainted with his inviolable honor, and 
long and faithful attachment to General Jackson." 

Branch's first appearance in public life was in the State 
Senate in 1811. He was again chosen to that body in 1813, 
where he served continuously until 1817, and again in 
1822. In 1817, he was elected Governor of the State and 
served the constitutional term of three years. 

He carried the simplicity of his early life into the Ex- 
ecutive Mansion. Once, during his term as Governor, a 
stranger rang the bell. Governor Branch, dressed in a 
suit of homespun jeans, answered the call. Upon inquir- 
ing for the Governor, the stranger was greatly astonished 
when informed that he was speaking to him. He was an 
educational governor of the early days. He was alive to the 
importance of a public school system, and, in his message 
to the General Assembly in 1819, he urged the appropria- 
tion of means to that end. He was, however, disappoint- 
ed, for it was several years later before the public schools 
became an actuality. Upon his retirement from the office 
of Governor, President Monroe tendered him the office of 
Judge of the district of the Territory of Florida, which he 

In 1822, while a member of the State Senate, he was 


elected United States Senator, the only time the county 
has ever had that honor, and was re-elected in 1828. 
While in the Senate, Branch differed with his colleague, 
Nathaniel Macon, on the question of internal improve- 
ments, and voted for an appropriation to build the Dismal 
Swamp Canal while Macon voted against it. Branch, how- 
ever, was on the winning side. 

Soon after his entrance upon his second term as sen- 
ator, he was tendered by President Jackson the portfolio 
of Secretary of the Navy, which he accepted. John H. 
Eaton, at that time living in Tennessee but a native of 
Halifax County, was made Secretary of War. Thus, there 
was the singular coincidence of two natives of Halifax 
County being in the President's cabinet at the same time. 

President Jackson's cabinet was disrupted in a singular 
way, and, as two Halifax County men were closely identi- 
fied with the incident, it is here related. Secretary Eaton 
had married a widow Timberlake, about whom there were 
some uncomplimentary rumors. As a consequence of 
these rumors, she was not received in the best circles of 
Washington. President Jackson was an intimate personal 
friend of Secretary Eaton and noticed the snubs that Mrs. 
Eaton was receiving. He, therefore, undertook to have 
the social ostracism removed. He sent R. M. Johnston^ 
of Kentucky, to Secretary Branch to express to him that 
the President thought the rumors regarding Mrs. Eaton, 
were untrue, and intimated a wish that Branch might use 
his influence in Mrs. Eaton's favor. 

Branch resented the effort of the President to influence 
his social relations, and at once tendered his resignation. 
His example was immediately followed by the other mem- 
bers of the Cabinet. President Jackson thus found that 
his diplomacy in social matters was not equal to his skill 
on the battlefield. Even Martin Van Buren, the Secretary 
of State, who was only remotely connected with the affair, 
left the cabinet. 

After his return home from Washington, Branch wrote 
several articles for the Roanoke Advocate, published at 


Halifax, explaining his connection with the affair, and 
thereby strengthened himself with the people. At the 
time of his retirement from the cabinet, the campaign was 
on for the nomination of a member of Congress. Jesse A. 
Bynum, of Halifax, was a candidate for the nomination, 
but there was a feeling that Branch ought to be nomi- 
nated. Bynum, therefore, retired from the contest and 
Branch was nominated and elected to the Congress of 

In 1834, Branch was again elected to the State Senate. 
In 1835, he and Joseph J. Daniel represented the county in 
the Constitutional Convention, held that year in Raleigh. 
On motion of Branch, Nathaniel Macon, of Warren 
County, was chosen President of the Convention. Both 
he and Daniel voted against the amendment to elect the 
Governor by the people instead of by the General As- 
sembly. When the amendment to abolish the borough 
system came up. Branch voted in favor of it, but Daniel 
opposed it. Both were in favor of abolishing the religious 
restrictions in the constitution. 

Later, when the new instrument of government was 
submitted to the people for ratification, the vote of Hali- 
fax County was 239 for and 441 against ratification. The 
vote of the State was 26,771 to 21,606 in favor of the new 
constitution. This was the first change in the Constitu- 
tion since its adoption in 1776, which shows the conserva- 
tism of the people of North Carolina. 

In 1838 Branch was the Democratic candidate against 
Edward B. Dudley, the Whig candidate, for Governor. 
Dudley was elected. Branch's defeat may have been 
brought about by his course in the Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1835. It was his last appearance before the 
people as a candidate for office. In 1843, he was appoint- 
ed by President Tyler to the position of Governor of the 
Territory of Florida, and, after the expiration of his term 
of office, he retired to private life. 

He died at Enfield, January 4, 1863, and is buried at 
the family cemetery near that town. He was married 


twice, first to Miss Fort and second to Mrs. Bond. He left 
a large family of children, whose descendants are numer- 
ous in the county. 

No man connected with the county ever had so many 
honors bestowed upon him. He was, at different times, a 
member of the General Assembly, Governor of the State, 
Senator and Representative in Congress, Secretary of the 
Navy, and Governor of Florida. To have held so many 
offices shows that he was no ordinary man. The most 
striking traits in his character, to which his success is 
due, were his incorruptible integrity, indomitable will 
pov^er, and urbanity. He was a gentleman of the old 
school, who went to his grave full of years and honors. 



Hutchings G. Burton was born in Mecklenburg County, 
Va., in 1782. His father, John Burton, was an officer in 
the Revolutionary war ; and, dying when his son was three 
years old, made his brother. Colonel Robert Burton, of 
Granville County, N. C, guardian of the child, requesting 
his brother to adopt him into his own family and rear him 
as his own son. The uncle took the boy to his home in 
Williamsboro where he grew up and remained until he en- 
tered upon his business career. His mother also accompa- 
nied him to Granville County. 

He was given a liberal education for that day. After 
attending the academy at Williamsboro, he entered the 
University at Chapel Hill, but did not complete his college 
course. Leaving the University, he read law under Judge 
Henderson, one of the ablest jurists of his day. Upon re- 
ceiving his license to practice law, he located in Charlotte. 
In 1809 and again in 1810, he represented Mecklenburg 
County in the House of Commons. His advance at the 
bar must have been rapid, as, in 1810, he was elected At- 
torney-General of the State, which position he held until 
1816, when he resigned. 


In 1812, he went to Halifax on a visit to a former school- 
mate, Willie Jones, Jr. There he met Sarah, the youngest 
daughter of the late Willie Jones, and they were married 
in the following December. He immediately located in 
Halifax and made his home at the "Grove House." In 
1817, he represented the borough of Halifax in the House 
of Commons. In 1819, he was elected to Congress and 
served two terms. 

He was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1825 and 
brilliantly occupied that position for two years. One of 
the first things Governor Burton did was to urge, in his 
message to the General Assembly, the prime importance 
of the Public Schools; and, the same year, an act drawn 
by Bartlett Yancy was passed, entitled "An act to create 
a fund for the establishment of Common Schools." This 
was the beginning of our public school system, and makes 
memorable the administration of Governor Burton. It 
was during Governor Burton's first term that Lafayette 
made his visit to the State, and was magnificently enter- 
tained at the Governor's home in Raleigh. 

In 1826, he was nominated by President John Quincy 
Adams as Governor of the Territory of Arkansas, but his 
nomination was never confirmed by the Senate. He re- 
tired from the executive mansion in 1827 to private life, 
and lived the remainder of his days quietly at his home. 

Governor Burton was an orator of rare ability and a 
stump speaker of unusual power; but while in Congress, 
he rarely ever spoke upon the questions before the house. 
He explained that, himself, by saying that in the Con- 
gress, at the time, were such lights as Clay, Calhoun, 
Webster, and Randolph, and they overawed him. Burton 
felt under restraint in their company, but had he felt in- 
clined he could have displayed ability of no ordinary kind. 

He had a summer home in the western part of the 
county near Ringwood, named "Rocky Hill," where he 
was residing at the time of his death, the circumstances 
of which were rather singular. Some time previous to 
1836, he had bought a tract of land in Texas with a view 


of going to the "Lone Star Republic" to live. He left his 
family at "Rocky Hill" and set out by stage coach to see 
his farm in Texas. Reaching Salisbury, where he had 
some business in court he met with his cousin, Robert 
Burton, of Lincoln County. After completing his busi- 
ness in Salisbury, he intended spending a few days with 
his cousin before going to Texas. On the trip to Lincoln 
County, the party stopped at the Wayside Inn to pass the 
night. Here, Governor Burton was taken, during the 
night, with cramp and died within a few hours. His last 
words were, "Oh, my dear wife and children! Lord, re- 
ceive my spirit." His death occurred April 21, 1836. His 
remains were buried in Unity Churchyard, in Lincoln 

Mrs. Burton, at her home at "Rocky Hill," did not hear 
of his death until three weeks after the funeral, and, even 
then the first intimation of it was a newspaper account of 
his death and burial. 



Joseph J. Daniel was born in Halifax County, Novem- 
ber 13, 1784. Very little is known of his boyhood. It 
is said that his early education was defective; but, later 
he became a close student of the law under the tutelage of 
William R. Davie. By diligent application, he overcame 
his early deficiencies and became in early manhood one of 
the most brilliant lawyers in North Carolina. 

His first appearance in public life was in 1807, when 
he was elected to the House of Commons from the borough 
of Halifax. He was but twenty-three years of age at the 
time, but showed wisdom and discretion far beyond his 
years. He was elected to the House of Commons from 
the county in 1811 and 1812, and to the same body from 
the town in 1815. In 1816, he was appointed Judge of 
the Superior Court, and, in 1832, was elevated to the Su- 
preme Bench, which position he held until his death in 


There are but scanty details regarding the career of 
Judge Daniel. It is said that he was never out of the State 
but one time and that was when he attended the trial of 
Aaron Burr in 1807 in Richmond, Va. He was devoted 
to the State and County, and was always grateful to both 
for the honors he received. He was not a good speaker at 
the bar, but a fine conversationalist. His ready wit and 
strong personality were the chief means by which he ad- 
vanced so rapidly in his profession. He was judge of the 
Superior Court for sixteen years, and served the same 
length of time on the Supreme Bench. This long tenure 
of office, in itself, shows that he was a man of no ordi- 
nary ability. His reports of cases decided in the Supreme 
Court and his written decisions are models of conciseness 
and terseness, not a superfluous word being used. 

Judge Daniel is said to have had an artless simplicity 
of character, and not to have been practical in the every 
day affairs of life. One, who knew him well, said that 
the simplest details of the farm were Dutch to him. He 
could not even plant a row of corn. Another who also 
knew him said that he was kind and charitable, and that 
he had known him to send around a servant with meal 
and meat to his indigent neighbors. In Judge Daniel's 
day, it was no reflection upon a man to "take a drink" 
with a friend ; and whenever he did. Judge Daniel insisted 
on the English custom of paying for his own drink. 

He owned a residence in the town of Halifax and a 
country home at his farm, "Burnt Coat," near Heathsville. 
He married Maria Stith, whom he survived. Several chil- 
dren survived him, and his descendants are numerous in 
this State and others. 

Chief-Justice Ruffin had the following to say of Judge 
Daniel on the occasion of the adoption of resolutions by 
the bar on the occasion of his death : 

"Judge Daniel served his country through a period of 
nearly thirty-two years acceptably, ably, and faithfully. 
He had a love of learning, an inquiring mind, and a mem.- 
ory uncommonly tenacious ; and he had acquired and re- 


tained a stock of varied and extensive knowledge, and 
especially became well versed in the History and the Prin- 
ciples of the Law. He was without arrogance or ostenta- 
tion, even of his learning; had the most unaffected and 
charming simplicity and mildness of manners, and no 
other purpose in office than to 'execute justice and main- 
tain truth' ; and, therefore, he was patient in hearing ar- 
gument, laborious and calm in investigation, candid and 
instructive in consultation, and impartial and firm in de- 



The subject of this sketch was born in Halifax County 
in 1802 and graduated from the State University in 1821. 
After his graduation, he located at Halifax for the prac- 
tice of law, which he pursued with great success. No man, 
in the early part of the nineteenth century, was more bril- 
liant at the Halifax bar than John R. J. Daniel. 

In 1831, he was elected to the House of Commons and 
re-elected in 1832, 1833, and 1834. In the last mentioned 
year, he was chosen Attorney- General of the State, which 
position he held until 1841, when he was elected to Con- 
gress as the representative in the House of Representa- 
tives from the Second District. He was re-elected con- 
tinuously until 1851 when he retired from active partici- 
pation in public affairs. While in congress, he was for 
several years chairman of the Committee on Claims, a 
post of duty for which his unquestioned integrity, clear 
and discriminating mind, and patient industry especially 
fitted him. 

He was a good speaker and debater. Thomas H. Benton, 
in his book, makes several extracts from his speeches 
while in Congress and pays him a deserved tribute. He 
is said to have been a man of iron will, sometimes over- 
bearing and tyrannical, tenacious of his rights and fond 
of having his own way. Once he became involved in a 


law suit with a neighbor over two acres of farm land, 
which both claimed ; and, after considerable litigation and 
the expenditure of much ill nature and display of temper, 
he was beaten in the final adjudication and had to pay the 
bill of cost amounting to $2700.00. It may be supposed 
that this was done with no very amiable disposition by a 
man, who believed in his own case and saw no show of 
reason in the contentions of his opponent. 

After serving his last term in Congress in 1851, he 
bought a farm near Shreveport, La., where he resided 
much of the time until his death in 1868. He was a cousin 
of Judge Joseph J. Daniel, father of General Junius Dan- 
iel, and immediately or remotely connected with the large 
family of that name in this and adjoining counties. 



During the early years of the nineteenth century, two 
men, Jesse A. Bynum and Robert Potter, lived a number 
of years in the town of Halifax and had considerable 
weight in the administration of public affairs. They pos- 
sessed brilliant intellects, but because of violent tempers, 
they became involved in many difficulties that have 
brought reproach and almost ignominy upon their names. 
Because of their bitter rivalry, mention is made of them 
in the same connection. 

Bynum was born in Northampton County and educat- 
ed at Union College, New York, but came to Halifax quite 
early in life and began the practice of law. He represent- 
ed the borough of Halifax in the General Assembly in 
1823 and 1824 and again in 1827 and 1828. In 1825, he 
and Robert Potter were opposing candidates, and so 
warm did the campaign become that on election day the 
voting was broken up by a street fight between the adher- 
ents of the two candidates. Consequently, there was no 
election and no representative from the town that j'^ear. 
Robert Potter was elected the next year. 


In 1833, Bynum became a candidate for Congress ; and 
conducted such a brilliant campaign, he was elected by a 
big majority over his Whig opponent. He was re-elected 
continuously until 1841, when he retired to private life 
and removed to Louisiana. While in Congress he had 
two personal difficulties, one with Congressman Jenifer, 
of Maryland, resulting in a duel, which terminated, after 
several ineffectual shots, in a reconciliation ; and another, 
on the floor of the House, with Congressman Garland of 
Louisiana. His career after his retirement from Con- 
gress is unknown. 

Robert Potter was born in Granville County but lived 
for several years in Halifax. He was a man of ability, 
but of such violent temper and perverse nature that his 
career was a reproach upon his name. He and Bynum 
were on bad terms, it was said, because Bynum refused 
to introduce him to a certain young lady. Their bitter 
personal rivalries were carried into the political cam- 
paigns and fisticuffs were frequent. As already related, 
the election of 1825 was broken up by a street row; but, 
in 1826, Potter was elected as the representative in the 
House of Commons from the town of Halifax. 

In 1827, Potter removed from Halifax to Granville 
County, and so lost connection with this immediate sec- 
tion ; but because of his remarkable subsequent career, 
the story of his life is followed, though its recital reveals 
the ignominy of his character. 

In 1828, he was chosen to represent Granville County 
in the House of Commons, and made himself very popular 
by championing a bill to inquire into the condition of the 
banks, some of which at the time were very corrupt. In 
1830 he was elected to Congress and re-elected in 1832; 
but on account of the commission of a nameless crime, 
for which he was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced 
to jail, he did not serve his term out. Strange to say, how- 
ever, that after serving his term in jail, he was again 
elected to the House of Commons from Granville County ; 
but was expelled for cheating at cards. 


After this second disgrace, Potter became an object of 
detestation; and, to escape public censure, he fled to 
Texas. There he took part in political matters and rose 
to prominence. Later, he moved to Louisiana and located 
near Caddo Lake. There he led a life of gross immoral- 
ity, and, after forbearance had ceased to be a virtue, he 
was warned by his indignant neighbors to leave the com- 
munity. He did not, however, obey the warning. Short- 
ly afterwards a number of men came to his house by night, 
took him outside, and told him he richly deserved death ; 
but they would give him a chance for his life. They then 
gave him a start of one hundred yards and told him that 
his life would be the forfeit if any of his pursuers should 
get in shooting distance of him. Potter immediately ran 
for the lake and plunged in to escape death by diving. 
His pursuers came to the edge of the lake, and, as he came 
to the surface for breath, fired upon him and he sank to 
a watery grave. 

Thus died in disgrace and ignominy one of the most 
brilliant and corrupt men ever connected with Halifax 



Bartholomew Figures Moore was born at Sycamore Al- 
ley, Halifax County, January 29, 1801. His father, James 
Moore, came to the county from Northampton, Va. He 
was a sailor in the Revolutionary War, and saw service 
of a very exciting nature in that eventful struggle. Some 
of his adventures have already been narrated in a former 

"Bat" Moore, as the distinguished son is familiarly 
known, entered the University of North Carolina in 1818 
and graduated therefrom in 1820. He then read law un- 
der Thomas N. Mann, a prominent lawyer of Nash Coun- 
ty, securing license to practice and locating at Nashville, 
N. C, in 1823. At first he had but little success, and. 


it is said, practiced several years without making ex- 
penses. He persevered, however, overcoming all difficul- 
ties by his indomitable will power until he reached the 
very summit of the profession in the State. 

In December, 1828, he was married to Louisa, daugh- 
ter of George Boddie, of Nash County. She died the next 
year, and, in 1835, he married Lucy, another daughter of 
George Boddie. In that year, he removed to his native 
County and began the practice of his profession in the 
town of Halifax, where he met with great success. He 
entered politics in 1836 and was elected to the House of 
Commons that year. He was a candidate in 1838, but 
was defeated at the polls by a majority of one vote, said 
to have been cast against him because he voted for an ap- 
propriation for the building of the Wilmington and Wel- 
don Railroad. He was again elected in 1840 and re-elected 
in 1842 and 1844. 

In 1847, he was appointed by Governor Graham to the 
position of Attorney-General of the State, and elected by 
the General Assembly in 1850. The next year he was ap- 
pointed by Governor Reid on the commission to revise 
the statute laws of the State, in accordance with an act of 
the General Assembly of that year. The Revised Code 
was reported to the Legislature of 1854, and, with some 
modifications, passed into law. He was a member of the 
Commission appointed to edit and publish the code, which 
was done in 1855. 

During the whole period of his residence at Halifax he 
was laboriously and successfully engaged in the practice 
of the law in all the courts in his circuit except the coun- 
ty courts, all of which, except Halifax, he discontinued 
upon his appointment to the office of Attorney-General. 
He removed to Raleigh in 1848, where he resided at the 
time of his death in 1878. 

In Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, stands one of the most 
beautiful and costly monuments in North Carolina. It 
occupies a prominent position, and its symmetrical pro- 
portion and artistic beauty make it a notable object. Its 


total height is twenty-three feet. The design is Gothic 
and the spire is surrounded by a crown and cross. On the 
west side is the following inscription : 

"Bartholomew Figures Moore, LL. D. 

Born January 29, 1801, 

Died November 27, 1878 

Citizen, Lawyer, Statesman 

To himself, his family, and his country 

He was true. 

To evade a duty was to him impossible. In the dis- 
charge of duty he was diligent; difficulty intensified his 
effort. A devoted son of North Carolina. A never fail- 
ing friend and liberal benefactor to her interests, an un- 
compromising foe to oppression, a profound jurist, and a 
fearless patriot." 



One of the most universally popular men that ever lived 
in Halifax County was Colonel Andrew Joyner, who was 
born, November 5, 1786, near the town of Halifax. His 
father, Henry Joyner, was a prominent planter and busi- 
ness man. Not much is known of the early life of Andrew 
Joyner. He was probably as well educated as the limited 
means of acquiring an education in that day would allow. 

His first service of a public nature was during the War 
of 1812. He was enrolled in the Third Regiment of North 
Carolina Volunteers, and before the regiment was ready 
for service he was given the rank of Major. Shortly af- 
terwards he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Col- 
onel in the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers. 
He served in that capacity during the period of the war. 

In 1814, his regiment was ordered to Norfolk, Va., to 
assist in repelling a threatened British attack upon that 
town. Admiral Cockburn, the ranking British Naval of- 
ficer in the Chesapeake, had been threatening a descent 


upon the place. Finding it, however, well fortified and 
garrisoned, he did not attack; but sailed away to the 
South. During the stay of the First Regiment at Norfolk, 
an epidemic of "Camp Plague" broke out, and almost 
every man in the command suffered from it. During the 
prevalence of the epidemic, Joyner was so indefatigable 
in his efforts to relieve the sufferings of the men that he 
endeared himself to the survivors to such an extent that, 
in his political campaigns in later life, not one of them 
ever voted against him. 

In 1835, he was elected Senator from the county to the 
General Assembly, and re-elected continuously until 1852. 
He was the presiding officer of the Senate in 1838, 1840, 
and 1846. In his campaigns for election, he usually won 
easily. He was a Whig, but sometimes he was elected 
unanimously. Not an old soldier of any political faith ever 
voted against him. 

Colonel Joyner turned his attention to "big" business 
enterprises. He was an earnest advocate of internal im- 
provements, voted regularly for railroads every time he 
had an opportunity, and was a promoter of steamboat 
lines on the Roanoke river. He was President of the Roa- 
noke Navigation Company, that put on the first steamboat 
that ever made a trip on the Roanoke. He was also Presi- 
dent of the Weldon and Portsmouth railroad, which after- 
wards became the Seaboard, and directed the affairs of 
that company from his headquarters in Weldon for many 

While Colonel Joyner was so closely indentified with 
the railroads, he would never allow one of his children to 
ride on a pass. He had a highly developed judicial mind 
and was particularly active in settling disputes between 
neighbors. So well known was he in this respect that his 
home near Weldon was generally spoken of as "Colonel 
Joyner's Court of Equity." 

He was twice married, first to Temperance Williams 
and second to Sarah Jones Burton, widow of Governor 
Hutchings G. Burton. Numerous children survived. 


Colonel Joyner died Sept. 20, 1856, and is buried at Pop- 
lar Grove near Weldon. 



One of the Brigadier-Generals, furnished by Halifax 
County to the Confederate army during the War between 
the States, is the subject of this sketch. He was bom, 
in Enfield November 28, 1820, was a grandson of John 
Branch, sheriff of Halifax County during the Revolution, 
and a nephew of John Branch, member of Congress gov- 
ernor senator, and cabinet member. His ancestry and 
immediate family relationship were brilliant 

His father. Major Joseph Branch, upon the'death of his 
wife on Christmas day, 1825, removed to Tennessee, and 
shortly afterwards died, leaving his son, Lawrence, to the 
guardianship of his distinguished brother, John Branch 
1 he boy was brought back to North Carolina and was 
with his uncle m Washington during his career as a mem- 
ber of Congress and a cabinet official. Upon the disrup- 
tion of President Jackson's cabinet in 1831, young Branch 
returned with his uncle to Enfield, where he entered a 
preparatory school and was ready for college by the time 
he was fifteen. 

In 1835, he entered the University of North Carolina. 
Ihe next year, however, he matriculated at Princeton 
was graduated from that institution in 1838, and deliv- 
ered the English salutatory. He studied law in Tennessee 
obtained license, and began to practice in Florida before 
he was twenty-one years of age. In 1841, when the Sem- 

f .J^o^'^u^^^^' ^^ ^""^'^^^^ ^"^ ""'^^ ^^d to General Reid. 
in 1848 he returned to his native State and located in 
Raleigh for the practice of law. Here his rise was rapid, 
tor, in 1852, he was presidential elector on the Pierce and 
King ticket and member of Congress in 1854 

In 1852, he became President of the Raleigh and Gas- 
ton Railroad Company and served two years when he re- 


signed to become a member of Congress from the Raleigh 
district. In this latter capacity, he served with ability 
until 1861 when he resigned because he saw that North 
Carolina was about to secede from the union. Upon his 
retirement from Congress, President Buchanan tendered 
him the portfolio of Secretary of the Treasury, but he 
declined it for the same reason that he gave up his seat 
in Congress. 

Returning to Raleigh, in April, 1861, he, at once, joined 
the Raleigh Rifles as a private. He was made Quarter- 
master-General the same month and elevated to the posi- 
tion of Paymaster-General on May 20. In September, 
the same year, he resigned that position to accept the com- 
mission of Colonel in the Thirty-Third Regiment, a posi- 
tion that would give him more active duties in the field, 
which was more in keeping with his tastes. 

In January, 1862, Colonel Branch was commissioned 
by President Jefferson Davis Brigadier-General and sta- 
tioned at Newbem for the protection of that city and to 
safeguard eastern North Carolina. Branch had five 
thousand men, under his command, but the city was at- 
tacked in March, the same year, by 15,000 Federals and 
Branch was obliged to evacuate his fortifications and re- 
treat to Kinston. Being relieved of his separate com- 
mand, General Branch was given a brigade in the army 
of Northern Virginia, and was in the battle of Hanover 
Court House, where, on account of signal bravery and 
distinguished services, he was praised by General Lee. 

General Branch was conspicuous for his gallantry in the 
Battles of the Seven Days, Cedar Run, Second Bull Run, 
Fairfax Court House, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam. At 
the latter place, while standing with some officers, near 
the firing line, he was shot through the head and fell into 
the arms of Major Joseph A. Engelhead, and died almost 
immediately. The remains were brought to Raleigh for 

General Branch married Nancy Haywood Blount, 
daughter of General W. A. Blount, and left four children. 


as follows : William A, B. Branch, an officer in the War be- 
tween the States, and, from 1891 to 1895, member of Con- 
gress from the First Congressional district. The daugh- 
ters were Susan, who married Robert H. Jones ; Nannie, 
married Armistead Jones ; Josephine married Kerr Craig 
of Salisbury. 



Edward Conigland was born in the county of Donigal, 
Ireland, April 22, 1819. He was the fifth son of Dr. Pat- 
rick and Margaret Brison Conigland. His father was a 
skilled physician, and gave his sons the best educational 
advantages the times afforded. Dr. Conigland's death, 
however, occurred when Edward was but fourteen years 
of age ; and his mother, owing to financial losses, emigrat- 
ed, with her children, to America, arriving in New York, 
October 26, 1834. 

Like many another young Irishman, coming to this 
country, Edward found that life in the New World was not 
one of ease. He was, therefore, glad to do any kind of 
work that offered itself to keep the wolf from the door, 
and had but little opportunity to pursue his classical stud- 
ies he had begun in Ireland. He was diligent enough, 
however, to bend his energies to the acquisition of know- 
ledge and the improvement of his mind in whatever way 
chance offered. Through the mediation of an influential 
friend, he was elected to membership in the Metropolitan 
Debating Association, which had been established by 
young men of cultivated tastes and literary aspirations 
for mutual improvement, one of the exclusive social or- 
ganizations in New York City. On several occasions, 
when the public was admitted to the debates, the talent 
displayed by young Conigland, both as a writer and a 
speaker, was much complimented in the New York Jour- 

In 1844, having studied law in New York and being a 


good mathematician and linguist, he came to Halifax 
County and taught school in the home of Isaac Falkland 
for a year or two. During his career as a teacher, he con- 
tinued his study of law ; and, in 1846, procured license to 
practice in the Courts of North Carolina, establishing an 
office in the town of Halifax. 

Like most young lawyers, he came into lucrative prac- 
tice slowly, having what is known as the "starving pe- 
riod" for several years. His talent and industry, however, 
ultimately put him in the first rank of his profession. His 
services were desired and employed in many counties in 
the State. Two of the most celebrated legal cases, in 
which he was engaged, were the impeachment trial of 
Governor Holden and the Johnston Will Case. In the 
former, he was counsel for the defense and used all the 
tremendous force of his brilliant intellect to save the ac- 
cused Governor from conviction ; but to no avail. 

In 1865, he was one of the delegates from Halifax Coun- 
ty to the Constitutional Convention in Raleigh. The 
stand he took in that convention gained for him the ap- 
proval and high regard of the people of the State. He had 
not been a soldier in the War between the States because 
of his defective hearing, but he showed, in his speeches 
and his votes in that body that he was a patriotic North 

Forming a partnership, for the practice of law, in 1875, 
with the late Robert 0. Burton, he continued the work of 
his profession with increasing success until his tragic 
death in December, 1877, brought his career to a close. 
On December 4, that year, he was returning home from 
one of his farms near Halifax, walking on the railroad 
track, and in a few minutes would have been with his 
family, when he was run down and killed instantly by a 
freight train. 

Edward Conigland was married three times, first to 
Eliza Tillery, of Halifax County; second, to Mary Wyatt 
Ezell, of Jackson, N. C, and third, to Emily Long, of 
Northampton County. None of his descendants now re- 
side in the county. 




In many respects, the most distinguished soldier that 
Halifax County has produced was Junius Daniel, the sub- 
ject of this sketch. He was the youngest son and the last 
surviving issue of John R. J, Daniel, who was distin- 
guished as Attorney-General and member of Congress 
for a long time. He was born in the town of Halifax 
on the 27th day of June, 1828, and, at the age of three, met 
with the loss of an admirable mother. 

His youth was passed in a quiet and an uneventful 
manner in the elementary schools of his native town. 
When about fifteen years of age, he was sent to the ex- 
cellent academy of J. M. Love joy, of Raleigh, and re- 
mained in that school until 1846. While in that institu- 
tion, he was spoken of as "admirably made, muscular, a 
quick eye, and as determined a spirit as ever animated 
a body." His record in the Love joy Academy was ad- 

In 1846, under the appointment of President Polk he en- 
tered the Military Academy at West Point. After a high- 
ly creditable and honorable career as a student, both in 
deportment and scholarship, he was graduated therefrom 
in 1851. While in school there and during some maneu- 
vers on the drill ground with the artillery corps, a heavy 
gun was thrown on him, injuring his spine, which affect- 
ed his health for several years. 

After graduation, he was ordered to Newport, Ky., as 
assistant quartermaster; but in the fall of 1852, he was 
sent, in charge of a detachment of soldiers, to New Mex- 
ico, and was stationed at Fort Albuquerque where he re- 
mained five years. While in this service, some refractory 
soldiers entered into a conspiracy to kill him and at- 
tacked him in his quarters. When set upon, Daniel 
drew his sword, which, however, was shattered at the 
first thrust and fell from his hand. Although dis- 


armed, he, by his powerful strength, kept his assailants 
at bay until the attention of the guard was attracted, 
and he was rescued. 

In 1857, he resigned his commission in the service 
of the United States government, at the solicitation of 
his father, and began a career as an agriculturist in 
Louisiana. This occupation was not altogether accord- 
ing to his tastes, and he was not reluctant to give it up 
at the first favorable opportunity, which was not long 
in coming. He was, according to a report, a good farmer, 
showing great adaptability to a career that he was 
compelled to force himself to like. 

He married, in October, 1860, Ellen, an accomplished 
daughter of Colonel John J. Long, of Northampton 
County. He returned to Louisiana, and was engaged 
vigorously in working his large plantation when the 
first gun was fired at Sumter and a continent became 
engulfed in war. 

When Lincoln called for troops to crush the South, 
the State of Louisiana offered Daniel a commission in 
the service of that State. He, however, preferred to 
serve with the troops of North Carolina and hastened 
home. Arriving in Halifax, he tendered his services 
to Governor Ellis, and was immediately accepted. He 
was shortly afterwards elected Colonel of the Fourth 
Regiment, but later of the Fourteenth, which he ac- 
cepted and remained the commanding officer until the 
period of enlistment expired. He was then tendered 
command of the Forty-Third and the Forty-Fifth regi- 
ments, which had enlisted for the period of the war. 
About the same time, he was offered by Governor Clark 
the command of the Second North Carolina Cavalry. He 
accepted the command of the Forty-Fifth. 

Soon thereafter. Colonel Daniel was ordered by Gen- 
eral Holmes to lead the four regiments then in Raleigh 
to Goldsboro and there organize them into a brigade. 
This was done so efficiently that General Holmes recom- 
mended Daniel to the authorities at Richmond for ap- 


pointment as brigadier-general. The Confederate gov- 
ernment, however, had been too liberal in appoint- 
ments, and had already commissioned more brigadiers 
than there were brigades to command. So Daniel found 
himself a brigadier without a commission and had to give 
place to one who had a commission but no command. He 
then organized another brigade, only to see it assigned to 
another. Later, he was called upon to organize a third, 
and this he retained command of as senior colonel for 
nearly twelve months. 

During this period, he was serving under the different 
departmental officers, all of whom urged his promotion, 
but to no avail. In June, 1862, he was ordered to Peters- 
burg, and, with the brigade, joined General Lee's army 
before the Seven Days' Battles, but took no active part 

In October, 1862, the long delayed commission 
as a brigadier-general was received. His brigade was 
composed of the following regiments : The Thirty-Second, 
commanded by Cowan; the Forty-Third, by Kenan, 
wounded and captured at Gettysburg; the Forty-Fifth, 
first by Morehead, who died at Martinsburg, Va., in Janu- 
ary, 1863, then by Boyd, who was wounded and captured 
at Gettysburg, exchanged and killed at Spottsylvania ; the 
Fifty-Third, by Owen, killed at Winchester; and the 
Second North Carolina Battalion, by Lieutenant-Colon )1 
Andrews, killed at Gettysburg. What a melancholy rec- 

General Daniel spent the fall of 1862, with his brigade, 
at Drury's Bluff. In December, he was ordered to 
North Carolina, under the command of General D. H. 
Hill to repel a diversion of Foster in favor of Burnside 
at Fredericksburg, Va. Shortly after the Battle of 
Chancellorsville, he was transferred to Lee's army, Rode's 
division, Ewell's Corps during the Pennsylvania cam- 
paign which followed. 

At Carlisle, Pa., General Ewell conferred a great honor 
upon General Daniel and his brigade. After reaching 


that place, General Ewell made a speech to Rode's divis- 
ion, complimenting them upon the successes of the march, 
their military bearing, and soldierly conduct. Then turn- 
ing to Daniel's brigade, recently attached to the division, 
he said: "You have shown yourselves so obedient to all 
orders, so sturdy and regular on the march and so well 
disciplined, that I will intrust to you the bearing of the 
'Corps flag/ confident that its honor could never suffer 
while in the keeping of such troops." 

This was a proud moment for General Daniel and the 
highest compliment that could have been conferred on 
his troops. The older brigades murmured at this prefer- 
ence, but the flag was valiantly borne in many hard fought 
battles. General Ramseur said that he coveted that flag 
and that he never saw troops move with more precision 
on parade than the troops who bore it when ordered to 
change their position under the full fire of the enemy. This 
tribute came from an honored rival and could not have 
been meant for mere pleasantry. 

The action of General Daniel at Gettysburg and the 
troops under his command won for him the highest es- 
teem among his fellow soldiers of whatever rank. The 
senior captain of the Forty-Third Regiment, Gary Whit- 
aker, who commanded the regiment after Kenan was shot 
down and who afterwards sealed his patriotism with his 
blood, is reported to have said that General Lee thus ac- 
costed General Daniel after the battle: "General Daniel, 
your troops behaved admirably and they were admirably 

General Daniel made an admirable report of the battle 
of Gettysburg, which is of sufficient interest to reproduce, 
at least, a portion of it : 

"I cannot, in justice to the officers and men of my com- 
mand, close this portion of my report without recording 
my honest conviction that the conduct of the troops, who 
participated in this engagement, will furnish brighter ex- 
amples of patient endurance than were ever exhibited be- 
fore. Entering the fight in the first day at about one P. 


M. and hotly engaged until four P. M., during which time 
they constantly drove before them a superior force of the 
enemy, losing nearly one-third of their number and many 
valuable officers ; exposed during the second day to a gall- 
ing fire of artillery from which they suffered much, they 
moved at night in a line of battle on the enemy's strong 
positions, after which, with less than two hours' rest and 
having made a fatiguing night march, they reported to 
General Johnson and entered the fight again at four A. M. 
on the third day and were not withdrawn until between 
three and four in the afternoon, then skirmishers remain- 
ing engaged until nearly twelve at night, and this whole 
time being constantly exposed to, and suffering from, the 
enemy's fire. Shortly after twelve, they were required to 
repeat the march of the preceding night and occupy the 
positions from which they had driven the enemy on the 
first day. Nor was there exhibited by any portion of the 
command during the three days in which they were en- 
gaged any disposition to shrink from the duties before 
them or any indication of that despondency with which 
men similarly exposed are so often affected." 

The next engagement, in which Daniel's brigade took 
part, was at Spottsylvania Court House, May 11, 1864. 
During a desperate charge of the Federals, the Confeder- 
ate lines were broken and the enemy was rapidly advanc- 
ing, when Daniel's brigade, which had been on the reserve 
line up to that time was brought into action, and, being 
led by General Daniel in a gallant charge, checked the ad- 
vance of the Federals and converted a defeat into a vic- 
tory. On the next morning, at the "Horseshoe Bend," 
hear Spottsylvania Court House, General Daniel fought 
his last battle. General Edward Johnson's division had 
been surprised early in the morning and most of it cap- 
tured or killed. General Daniel was leading his brigade 
to recapture the works when he was struck in the abdo- 
men by a minie ball. He was carried in a litter to the 
hospital about one mile in the rear and kept under the in- 
fluence of opiates until the next day when he died. His 


last thought was of his wife in her distant home unable to 
reach him. 

His remains were brought to Halifax and interred in 
the old churchyard, overlooking the blue hills of North- 
ampton. The grave is unmarked even by a stone, and, 
after the present generation has passed away, may be en- 
tirely lost to memory. 



Francis Marion Parker was born in Nash County, Sep- 
tember 21, 1827. His father, Theophilus Parker, was a 
thrifty merchant and farmer. The son had the privilege 
of country life, and enjoyed the wholesome opportunity 
of being reared on a prosperous farm. 

He was educated at the well known Love joy Academy in 
Raleigh, where he had the opportunity of being under the 
tutelage of learned and competent instructors. Receiving 
a liberal education at this institution, he returned to his 
father's farm and took up the duties of a planter. A few 
years later, he married Sallie T. Philips, of Edgecombe 
County, and, having purchased a farm near Enfield, made 
his home there. 

Here he was living with his family when the War be- 
tween the States began in 1861. Even before the State se- 
ceded Parker had already made preparation for the war. 
In April, he assisted in organizing the Enfield Blues and 
became the Second Lieutenant of the company. In May, 
his company was assigned to the First North Carolina 
Regiment, which afterwards came to be called the Bethel 
Regiment, and, in the latter part of the month, was or- 
dered to Virginia to assist in repelling the threatened Fed- 
eral advance from Fort Monroe. 

At Bethel, on June 10th, Parker received his first bap- 
tism of fire and distinguished himself with signal gal- 
lantry. On August 31, 1861, he became Captain of the 
Enfield Blues, but held that position only about six weeks 


when he was offered and accepted the commission of Colo- 
nel of the Thirtieth Regiment of North Carolina volun- 
teers, which position he held until he was wounded and 
forced to retire from the service. 

Colonel Parker was in the thickest of the Seven Days' 
Battles around Richmond, where his regiment performed 
heroic service. He was also in the battles of Seven Pines, 
South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellors- 
ville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Spottsylvania. He was 
severely wounded at the last mentioned conflict and was 
obliged to retire from active service. In all these great 
struggles, more than the average soldier was expected to 
experience. Colonel Parker showed a patriotic devotion of 
the highest type and rare military skill. 

After the close of the war. Colonel Parker retired to 
his country estate, where he spent the remainder of his 
life. He died January 18, 1905. 



Two distinguished sons of Halifax County have borne 
the name of Spier Whitaker. The first of the name was 
born in 1798, became prominent in politics in the early 
forties, was Attorney-General of North Carolina four 
years, 1842-46, and, after his term of office expired, re- 
moved with his family to Iowa, and died in his adopted 
State after the close of the War between the States. 

Spier Whitaker, son of the one just mentioned, was 
born in Enfield, March 15, 1841. At an early age he en- 
tered the school of Major Samuel Hughes in Orange 
County, where he was prepared for college. In the fall of 
1857, he matriculated at the University of North Carolina, 
and would have received his diploma in June, 1861, if he 
had remained until then; but the war clouds began to 
gather in increasing blackness, and young Whitaker, along 
with others, left college in April and volunteered as a 


private in a company being raised by Captain Richard J. 

His company was assigned to the Bethel Regiment. He 
was in the Battle of Bethel and was in the maneuvers 
around Yorktown until his company was ordered to New- 
bern the latter part of the year and attached to the com- 
mand of General L. O'B. Branch for the defense of East- 
ern North Carolina. 

He was in the thickest of the fight at Newbern, and fell 
into the hands of the enemy as a prisoner of war. After 
being held four months, he was exchanged and at once 
resumed his position in the ranks. He was made second 
lieutenant, and, with his company, joined Lee's army just 
before the first invasion of Maryland. He was in the 
memorable Battle of Antietam and the most of the ter- 
rible struggles of 1863 and 1864. At Appomattox, he 
sheathed his sword and went to his father's home in Iowa. 

Young Whitaker, however, was not satisfied with life 
in the West, and, after studying law under the tutelage of 
his father, returned to North Carolina in the fall of 1866 
and located at Enfield. He became solicitor in 1867, a po- 
sition he filled with splendid ability for several years. He 
was elected to the State Senate in 1881, and, in 1882, re- 
moved to Raleigh to form a law partnership with John 

In 1888 he was chairman of the State Democratic Ex- 
ecutive Committee and conducted a masterly campaign 
that year. The next year, he was appointed by Governor 
Fowle to the position of Superior Court Judge and was 
elected for the unexpired term in 1890. He retired from 
the judgeship in 1894, and resumed the practice of law 
in Raleigh. In 1898, the Spanish-American war having 
broken out, he volunteered his services and was appointed 
and commissioned Major by President McKinley. He, 
however, did not see active service, for the war ended be- 
fore the North Carolina troops were called to the front. 

Major Whitaker returned to Raleigh in 1899 and again 
resumed the practice of his profession. He died in the 
capital city, July 11, 1901. 




Walter N. Allen was born March 1, 1834, near Littleton. 
He was the oldest son of James V. Allen and his wife, 
Eliza Mason Johnson, and a great grandson of James Al- 
len, who was Colonel of the Halifax regiment of minute 
men during the closing months of the Revolutionary War. 
His grandfather, John Allen, was also a soldier of the 
Revolution, being yet in his teens when commissioned a 
second lieutenant and entrusted with the important duty 
of carrying from Philadelphia to Newbern $2485.50 in 
gold to pay off the soldiers of the Continental line. 

After receiving an elementary education in the schools 
of his neighborhood, Walter Allen, more generally known 
by his middle name of Norman, entered Lake Forest Col- 
lege, where he studied for two years. Leaving Lake For- 
est, he matriculated at the University of North Carolina 
in the school of law and continued his studies for two 
years longer. In 1856, he secured his license to practice 
law and was admitted to the bar in Halifax. 

In 1857, he went to Kansas, locating in Jefferson County. 
In that new country, he quickly became prominent. In 
1858, he was appointed county attorney and the next year 
was elected to the same position at the polls. In 1863, 
he was appointed clerk of the district court of Jefferson 
County by William McDowell, Judge of the First Judicial 
District of Kansas. In 1865, he was elected to the Kansas 
House of Representatives as the member from Jefferson 
County. While a member of that body, he was active in 
opposing the proposition to appropriate 500,000 acres of 
the public lands to the railroad company then traversing 
the county, taking the ground that these lands were held 
in trust by the State for the support of the public schools. 

In 1867, Allen was elected clerk of the court. During 
his term of office, he came into violent conflict with the 
Board of County Commissioners. The proposition was 


submitted to the voters of the county to issue bonds to the 
amount of $300,000, in equal proportions, to the Atchi- 
son, Topeka, and Santa Fe and the Atchison, Oskaloosa, 
and Lawrence railroads. The election was held and the 
commissioners declared the bond issue carried, ordering 
Allen, as Clerk of the Court, to make the entry in the 
books of the county, subscribing to the stock of these 
railroads to the amount of $300,000. Allen refused 
to make the entry, and the commissioners instituted legal 
proceedings against him to oust him from office. In the 
end, he was dismissed from office and imprisoned. 

These proceedings brought about a revulsion on the 
part of the people and an injunction was gotten out re- 
straining the commissioners from issuing the bonds or 
subscribing to the stock of the railroads. Allen was re- 
leased from jail and promptly became one of the most 
popular and influential men in that part of the State. He 
entered strenuously into the campaign to remove the com- 
missioners from office and to put in a board opposed to 
the bond issue. He took the stump, and, in a series of 
brilliant speeches, completely routed the bond advocates 
and carried the county against the railroad domination of 
its politics. 

From the beginning, Jefferson County was heavily Re- 
publican; but Allen, who was a staunch Democrat, was 
able to secure a majority vote whenever he came before 
the people and made a personal canvass. Because of po- 
litical conditions in Kansas, which was always overwhelm- 
ingly Republican, he failed to realize his ambitions. Con- 
sequently he turned his attention to agriculture and lived 
upon his estate near the city of Topeka, giving his talents 
to the development of agricultural interests of Kansas. 

In 1882, he purchased the Topeka Democrat, the lead- 
ing Democratic paper of the State and became managing 
editor. The same year he purchased the Topeka State 
Journal, a Greenback organ, and united it with the Demo- 
crat, becoming editor-in-chief of the consolidated papers. 
For a number of years, he, as editor of the principal Dem- 


ocratic paper in the State, exerted an influence in party 
councils that was almost paramount. 

About 1890, Allen turned his attention to the organiza- 
tion of the farmers of the Mississippi Valley into a union 
for protection against the grain and meat speculators. He 
succeeded in getting an immense number of farmers to- 
gether in St. Louis and was elected the first president of 
the organization. He spent his remaining years in the 
Herculean task of perfecting this union and in making it 
a mighty instrument for good to the farmers of the west. 

After going to Kansas, Norman Allen made two visits 
to his birthplace, once during the war between the States 
and again in 1885. He died Feb. 5, 1905. He left one 
son, Pope Walker Allen, who resides in Topeka, Kansas. 



Among the captains of industry of Halifax County, the 
name of Thomas L. Emry is prominent. He was conspic- 
uous, during the closing years of the nineteenth century 
and the beginning of the twentieth, in some of the most 
notable industrial enterprises of the eastern part of 
North Carolina. The story of his life is interesting and 

Thomas L. Emry was born in Petersburg, Va., Decem- 
ber 18, 1842, and was left an orphan at the age of six 
years. For eleven years the fatherless and penniless boy 
lived an unknown life in the city of his birth, acquiring 
such an education as the schools of that day could give 
him and his limited opportunities would permit. 

In 1859, Tom Emry, as he was generally called, left 
Petersburg and came to Halifax to live, engaging in the 
business of a tinner, at which he worked for more than a 
year. Some of the work he did during that time, is still 
in existence in some portions of the county. As a tinner, 
however, his career was short. 


When South Carolina seceded from the Union in De- 
cember, 1860, Tom Emry, then a mere boy of eighteen, 
L.stened to the Palmetto State and volunteered his ser- 
vices for the period of the war. He was attached to the 
Sixth Regiment of South Carolina volunteers and was 
present at the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter, 
April 12, 1861. In July, the same year, his regiment was 
ordered to Virginia and reached the battlefield of Bull Run 
on the afternoon of July 22 in time to witness the com- 
plete defeat and precipitous retreat of the Union Army. 
In the fall of 1861, he was transferred, at his request, 
from the Sixth Regiment of South Carolina troops to the 
Twelfth North Carolina Regiment, and rejoined the Hali- 
fax Light Infantry, of which he had been a member before 
going to South Carolina. With this regiment and com- 
pany he remained during his active participation in the 
war and until he was wounded and had to retire from the 

Tom Emry was a gallant soldier. He was in the Seven 
Days' Battles around Richmond, and, on the last day at 
Malvern Hill, won the admiration of his comrades and the 
praise of his Colonel and brigade commander by his he- 
roic conduct in action. The following is an extract from 
the report of Colonel B. O. Wade relative to his gallant be- 
havior : 

"It is gratifying to know that the bravery of some was 
without precedent. The noble daring of private T. L. 
Emry won the admiration of all his command, he having 
seized the flag and rushed through a shower of bullets to 
the brow of the hill and there stood defiantly waving it in 
the enemy's face until it and staff were completely riddled 
with bullets." 

On account of wounds received in battle, he became in- 
capacitated for heavy duties, and, for the remainder of 
the war, was placed on detail for less arduous work. He 
thus passed through the remaining portion of the war 
without special mention. 

Returning to Halifax, at the close of the war, he en- 


gaged in mercantile business and soon established him- 
self as one of the commercial factors of the county. In 
1869, he located in Weldon, and, at once, took a leading 
position in the industrial development of the town. For 
nearly twenty years, he was Mayor of Weldon, President 
of the Roanoke and Tar River Agricultural Society, for 
over fifteen years, and until the day of his death one of 
Weldon's most enterprising citizens. 

In 1886, Major Emry, as he was now generally known, 
was elected a member of the Board of County Commis- 
sioners and served in that capacity for two years. In 1888, 
he was nominated by the Democratic party for the Sen- 
ate of North Carolina, and was elected in November of 
that year, overcoming the heavy Republican majority in 
the county. He served only one term, declining to be 
drawn deeply into politics to the neglect of his business. 

Major Emry's greatest distinction, however, was not 
as a soldier or a political leader, but as an industrial or- 
ganizer and promoter. Some years after coming to Wel- 
don to live, he became interested in the development of the 
immense water power of the Roanoke river. With an eye 
to the great value of that power and with the purpose of 
its ultimate utility, he purchased a tract of land near what 
was known as the "Great Falls," about five miles up the 
river from Weldon, and began active preparation for har- 
nessing the tremendous energy that was running to waste. 

About 1892, by his untiring zeal, enterprise, and perse- 
verance, he succeeded in interesting several capitalists in 
the possibilities of utilizing the more than 50,000 horse 
power then unharnessed. A corporation, consisting of 
Charles Cohen and James M. Mullen, of Petersburg, Va. ; 
John L. Patterson and S. F. Patterson, of Winston-Salem ; 
W. S. Parker, of Henderson; and W. M. Hobliston, of 
Richmond, Va., together with Major Emry, was formed 
in 1895, and work was begun in the building of dams 
across the river and the construction of mills. The great 
enterprise was, therefore, fairly launched and Roanoke 
Rapids became an actuality. 


One of Major Emry's associates in the development of 
''Great Falls" as a manufacturing point thus speaks of 
him: "To Major Thomas L. Emry belongs the honor of 
discovering the advantages of this place as a manufactur- 
ing site. He built the first power plant ever erected here. 
When he began it, I doubt if he knew where the next pay 
roll was coming from. He was a man of indomitable en- 
ergy, however, and finished it." 

Major Emry lived to see the fruition of his dreams, a 
great manufacturing centre on a site chosen by himself. 
His name is associated with the magic city, and he will 
be remembered as one of the greatest potentialities in its 
development and growth. He died September 8, 1910. 



Previous to the war between the States, agriculture 
was almost the only industry of importance in Halifax 
County. The agriculturist, or planter, as the large farmer 
of that day was called, was generally a man of influence 
and note in his community. As tilling the soil was the 
occupation upon which the welfare of the county chiefly 
depended, the man who brought wealth to his community 
in that way was a benefactor. 

Richard H. Smith was one of the influential planters, 
among a number of such men in the lower part of the 
county, during the decades immediately preceding the 
Civil War. Born near Scotland Neck, May 10, 1812, he 
grew up on the farm of his father, William R. Smith, im- 
bibing the strength, character, and spirit of the well-bred 
country boy of that period. At the age of five, he was 
sent to school at the Vine Hill Academy in Scotland Neck. 
When twelve years old he entered the school of W. E. Webb 
at Hyde Park in the Littleton section of the county, and 
remained there three years. 

There is no record of his work as a student either at Vine 


Hill or at Hyde Park ; but as he was a model boy, it can 
well be inferred that he made good marks and won the 
respect and confidence of his teachers and class-mates. 
After spending a year at Oxford, he matriculated at the 
University of North Carolina in the fall of 1828, receiv- 
ing his diploma of graduation in 1832. 

In the spring of 1833 he went to Warrenton, N. C, and 
began the study of law under Edward Hall, an attorney of 
that town. After finishing his course and before applying 
for license to practice, he was married, December 4, 1834, 
to Sally Hall, daughter of Judge John Hall. Aban- 
doning the practice of law, he turned his attention to ag- 
riculture, and, assuming the burden of management, he 
soon became an agriculturalist of recognized ability. Well 
educated and endowed with natural talents of a high or- 
der, he early became a leader among the farmers of the 

He was not a politician by nature and refused to seek 
political preferment. In 1848, however, he was persuaded 
by his fellow citizens to become a candidate for the house 
of Commons on the ticket with William L. Long. Andrew 
Joyner, a veteran of the War of 1812, was the candidate 
on the same ticket for the senate. At the polls the ticket 
received a majority vote, and "Dick" Smith, as he was 
familiarly called, began his public career. As a legislator, 
he incurred unpopularity because he voted for the charter 
of the North Carolina Railroad, and, in the election of 
1850, he was defeated. He was, however, renominated in 
1852 and elected, and also again in 1854. 

Retiring from politics at the end of his term in 1855, he 
devoted his energies to his farming interests, and 
amassed a fortune that was considerable for that day. 
Although out of politics, he took an active interest in the 
great questions then agitating the country, chief among 
them that of slavery, which seemed destined to disrupt 
the Union. He was an ardent supporter of States Rights 
and a strict constructionist, and, with other Southern 
men, viewed the unreasonable acts of the radical element 


in the North with alarm. There seemed no chance for a 
peaceful settlement of the dispute between the North and 
the South, but Richard H. Smith was a union man and la- 
bored for peace until all hope of a solution of the trouble 
had passed. 

In January, 1861, the General Assembly, by an act, sub- 
mitted to the people the question of the call of a conven- 
tion to consider the matter of secession, and, at the same 
time, called for the election of delegates to the convention 
if it should be called by vote of the people. Richard H. 
Smith was one of the candidates of the opponents of the 
convention and was elected, but the call for the conven- 
tion was defeated. In May, however, of the same year, 
another convention was called by a majority vote of the 
people, and Richard H. Smith and Charles J. Gee were 
sent as the delegates from Halifax County. The country 
was in a state of excitement. Sumter had fallen and 
President Lincoln had called upon North Carolina and 
other Southern States for troops to wage war upon the 
Southern Confederacy. The war had actually begun. So 
when the convention met in Raleigh, May 20, there was 
no union sentiment among the members. All were for 
immediate secession. By a unanimous vote the ordi- 
nance was passed, the Halifax representatives being 
among the most ardent advocates of the step. 

During the war that followed, "Dick" Smith remained 
at his home near Scotland Neck, his age excluding him 
from active participation in military service. He was, 
however, a diligent student of affairs as they transpired, 
and, at the end, saw and felt the crash with composure. 
The beginning of the war found him a man of wealth. The 
end revealed him almost financially bankrupt. 

Perhaps the most eminent service Richard H. Smith 
performed was what he did as a churchman. He was one 
of the organizers of Trinity Parish and a vestryman for 
more than fifty years. For fifty-nine years he was a del- 
egate from his church to the Diocesan Convention, and in 
October, 1865, was a delegate to the General Convention 


of the Episcopal Church, which met that year in Phila- 
delphia. One of the great questions before the ecclesias- 
tical body was the reunion of the northern and southern 
branches of the Church. Along with other southern mem- 
bers, Richard H. Smith's voice was raised in behalf of 
reconciliation. He gained the ear of the convention and 
the two bodies voted to forget the past and to bury all 

When the Roanoke and Tar River Agricultural Society 
was organized a few years after the close of the Civil War, 
Richard H. Smith was chosen its first president. Largely 
by his efforts and the efficiency of the secretaries of the 
Fair Association, the successful series of fairs, which had 
a great influence upon the activities of the county, was 
held for a number of years at Weldon. 

He died March 3, 1893, at his home near Scotland Neck. 



As a trusted employee of the Postoflfice Departments of 
both the Confederacy and the United States, George 
Green Lynch had the unusual distinction of having been 
personally commended by both governments for merito- 
rious services. His was a career notable and conspicuous 
for patriotic self-sacrifice and devotion to duty. 

Born near Whitakers, Edgecombe County, November 
28, 1817, he grew up on his father's farm and early devel- 
oped the sturdy character of integrity for which he was 
so well known in later life. Taught only in the primitive 
schools of that day, his education was not as profound as 
would be supposed from the record of the excellent ser- 
vice which he afterwards rendered. He was, however, a 
close student of that which was most worth while, and 
became, as years passed, a man of strong personality and 
more than average intelligence. 

About 1840, George Lynch entered the service of the 


United States Government as Route Agent of the Post- 
ofRce Department, and, in a few years, was made Special 
Agent of the same division of the government. He held 
the latter position, when the Confederate Government 
was organized at Montgomery, Ala., in February, 1861. 
Without waiting to see what course North Carolina was 
going to take in the crisis, but, believing that the state was 
going to secede from the Union, he tendered his resigna- 
tion to the department in Washington, March 1, 1861. In 
answer to his letter of resignation, he received the fol- 
lowing communication: 

"G. G. Lynch, Esq., of North Carolina, has been in the 
service of this Department as Route Agent and Special 
Agent for the long period of sixteen years and upwards, 
and has always distinguished himself by the most constant 
and untiring devotion to the public interests. 

"From our knowledge of him both personally and offi- 
cially, we cheerfully, and, as an act of justice, testify our 
high appreciation of his services, and regret that circum- 
stances impel him to resign his office. 



(Signed) A. N. ZEVERLY, 

3rd Assistant P. M. G." 

July 1, 1861, he was tendered and accepted the position 
of Special Agent of the Postoffice Department of the Con- 
federate Government under Postmaster-General John H. 
Reagan, which position he held until the downfall of the 

During the period of his connection with the Confeder- 
ate Government, he was trusted with many dangerous 
and important missions. His field of operations was the 
entire South and portions of the West, through which he 
traveled, establishing postoffices and making collections 
for the government. At one time, he personally conveyed 
from Augusta, Ga., to Wilmington, N. C, $50,000 in gold, 


for which he was highly complimented by General Rea- 
gan in a letter written October 30, 1863. 

At another time, he was sent to West Virginia to estab- 
lish mail communication between the army of General 
Floyd, who was in command of that department, and the 
country to the east and south. Later, he was commis- 
sioned by General Reagan to establish postal service in 
such parts of Missouri as were in possession of the Con- 
federacy. For three months he was engaged in this ardu- 
ous task while his family knew not whether he was alive 
or dead. 

So successful, however, was he in carrying out the or- 
ders of his superiors that he was offered by President Jef- 
ferson Davis the position of Assistant Postmaster-Gen- 
eral with headquarters west of the Mississippi River, 
which, however, he declined. He continued his strenuous 
duties in a subordinate position until defeat settled upon 
the arms of the Confederacy in April, 1865. After Lee's 
surrender, he returned to his home out of employment 
but still vigorous and optimistic. 

The next year he was made General Agent of the Wil- 
mington and Weldon Railroad Company with headquar- 
ters at Weldon and was continuously in its employment 
until his death, December 28, 1886. During this time, he 
was a trusted employee and personal friend of some of the 
financiers, who were then laying plans for the great At- 
lantic Coast Line Railroad Company. Judge Lynch, as he 
was then familiarly known, may be considered as one of 
the factors, though in a modest way, of the formation of 
that standard railroad of the South. 

Judge Lynch was married February 19, 1846, to Emma 
Whitaker, from which union now survive six children, 
Mrs. Margaret Pierce, George G. Lynch, Adolphus B. 
Lynch, Mrs. F. S. Overton, Mrs. L. B. Tillery, and Mrs. B. 
W. Arrington. 




Halifax County has been noted in the past, as well as 
in the present, for its able jurists. Some of the most pro- 
found students of the law have lived and practiced at the 
Halifax bar, and have shed lustre upon the name of the 

Among the legal lights of the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century, the name of Thomas N. Hill is conspic- 
uous. He was the second son of Whitmel John Hill and 
Lavinia Dorothy Barnes Hill, and was born March 12, 
1838, near HUl's Cross Roads in the Scotland Neck sec- 
tion of Halifax County, the neighborhood still retaining 
its name from the Hill family. 

After preparatory study at Vine Hill Academy in Scot- 
land Neck and at the Warrenton High School, he entered 
the Freshman Class at the State University in 1853, and 
was graduated with distinction in June 1857, receiving 
the bachelor's degree. Later the master's degree was con- 
ferred upon him by his alma mater. Some of his class- 
mates were Robert Bingham, superintendent of the Bing- 
ham Military School at Asheville; A. C. Avery, of Mor- 
ganton, for years a Superior Court and a Supreme Court 
Judge; Thomas S. Kenan, Attorney-General, and later 
Clerk of the Supreme Court ; John W. Graham, for a long 
time one of the most eminent lawyers of the State; and 
Thaddeus Belsher, founder of the University of Columbus 
and Carrollton College in Mississippi. 

Leaving college, he attended for two years Judge Pear- 
son's Law School and became grounded in the principles of 
common law. In December, 1858, he was licensed to prac- 
tice in the County Courts, and, the next year, received li- 
cense to practice in the Superior Courts of the State. In 
1860, he opened a law office in Halifax, but later the same 
year changed his location to Scotland Neck. 

In politics, he was a Whig and a Union man. During the 


fall and winter of 1860-61, when troublous times arose, he 
opposed secession and argued strenuously for the union as 
it existed. When, however, the State seceded. May 20, 
1861, and war was inevitable, he enlisted as a private in 
the Scotland Neck Mounted Riflemen, afterwards Com- 
pany G of the Third North Carolina Cavalry. He was a 
soldier for about a year, for in May, 1862, while in the 
army, he was elected Solicitor for Halifax County. Re- 
turning home, he took up his new duties and continued in 
office until 1866 when he declined re-election. He was im- 
mediately appointed Clerk and Master in Equity by Judge 
Fowle, who was on the Superior Court Bench at that time. 
He resigned this office in 1867, and devoted his energies to 
the practice of his profession. 

As an office lawyer, Tom Hill, as he was familiarly 
known, had few superiors among his contemporaries. He 
was often appointed Referee, and, in that auxiliary court, 
his knowledge of law and his power of analysis were at 
their best in the investigation and determination of diffi- 
cult questions both of law and fact. His report as Referee 
in the case of Badger vs. Daniel, in Volume 79 of the North 
Carolina State Reports, is an illustration of his careful 
preparation. He had an extensive practice in the courts 
of Halifax, Northampton, Warren, Bertie, Martin, and 
Hertford counties, in the Supreme Court at Raleigh, and 
in the United States Circuit and District Courts. 

For more than forty-five years, he had as his opponents 
or associates, in the trial of cases, some of the ablest law- 
yers in the State. Among them may be mentioned John 
Catling, Fabius H. Busbee, Joseph B. Batchelor, and John 
W. Hinsdale, of the Raleigh bar ; William W. Peebles, Rob- 
ert B. Peebles, Matt. W. Ransom, Thomas W. Mason, and 
W. C. Bowen, of the Northampton bar ; Henry A. Gilliam, 
of Edgecombe; James E. Moore, of Martin; William D. 
Pruden, of Chowan; B. B. Winborne, of Hertford; Wil- 
liam A. Jenkins, of Warren; Edward Conigland, Robert 
O. Burton, William H. Kitchin, Spier Whitaker, William 
H. Day, John A. Moore, William A. Dunn, Claude Kitchin, 




^L^* L^O'yy^ ^ 


Edward L. Travis, James M. Mullen, Walter Clark, and 
Walter E. Daniel, of the Halifax bar. 

In 1877, upon the creation of the Inferior Courts, he 
was elected Chairman of the Halifax County Inferior 
Court Board of Justices and continued as the presiding 
officer of that Court until it was abolished by act of the 
General Assembly some years later. As presiding judi- 
cial officer. Judge Hill was fair and impartial in his de- 
cisions, and retained the highest respect and confidence of 
his associates. 

January 1, 1878, he located in Halifax for the second 
time, and shortly thereafter, he became a candidate be- 
fore the Democratic State Convention for the nomination 
for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 
The following notice of his candidacy is taken from the 
Raleigh News in its issue of June 6, 1878 : 

"Mr, Thomas N. Hill, a gentleman prominently spoken 
of in connection with a place on the Supreme Court Bench, 
is in the city; but if he ever finds the office or the office 
finds him, it will have to seek him, for he appears to be 
entirely too modest and unassuming for the practical busi- 
ness of political electioneering, but it is said by those who 
know him that a very high order of merit is concealed 
about his person and that he has few superiors in the 

When the convention met, Judge Hill received a large 
vote, but was defeated by the venerable Judge W. N. H. 
Smith, of Hertford County. In 1888, he was again a can- 
didate and was defeated by James E. Shepherd, of Beau- 
fort County, who was elected and was afterwards elevated 
to the Chief Justiceship. It appears, therefore, how nar- 
rowly Judge Hill failed of being signally honored by his 
fellow citizens. 

In 1902, he was importuned to become a candidate be- 
fore the Democratic State Convention for the nomination 
of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court against the then 
incumbent, Judge Walter Clark, another distinguished 
jurist of Halifax County. Judge Hill, however, declined 


to be a candidate before the convention, but afterwards 
announced his candidacy as an independent, "subject, 
however," as he explained, "to such action as may be tak- 
en by any State Convention composed of Democrats that 
may assemble hereafter for the purpose of making a nom- 
ination in opposition to Judge Clark." Shortly after his 
announcement, the Republican State Convention met and 
passed the following resolution: 

"Resolved, that, whereas the Republican party desiring 
the elevation to the Bench of the best fitted lawyer of the 
State, regardless of party affiliations, the candidacy of the 
Hon. Thomas N. Hill, of Halifax, for Chief Justice of 
North Carolina, is hereby endorsed, and, we, the Republi- 
cans of the State, in convention assembled, do earnestly 
recommend him to the people of the State for this high 

Although his candidacy was urged by a campaign com- 
mittee with headquarters at Greensboro, and a thorough 
canvass made, he failed of election. This was his last ap- 
pearance before the public, for he died July 24, 1904, at 
his home in the town of Halifax- He was a communicant 
of the Episcopal Church, a member of the Masonic Frater- 
nity, the State Bar Association, the American Bar Asso- 
ciation, and the Sons of the Revolution. 

He was twice married, first to Eliza Evans Hall, June 
4, 1861, who died October 25, 1884, from which union 
there were ten children, four sons and six daughters ; sec- 
ond to Mary Amis Long, daughter of Nicholas Long, of 
Weldon, on March 1, 1887, who died October 12, 1901, 
without issue. 



Peter Evans Smith, son of William Ruffin Smith and 
Susan Evans Smith, was born in Edgecombe County, Jan- 
uary 20, 1829, and, like most boys of that day, was reared 
on a farm. He was named for his maternal grandfather. 


who lived near Old Sparta in Edgecombe County. He was 
the oldest of thirteen children. 

When old enough to attend school, he was sent to the 
Vine Hill Male Academy in Scotland Neck; but later, he 
was thoroughly prepared for college at the famous Wil- 
liam Bingham School in Orange County. In September, 
1846, he matriculated at the University of North Caro- 
lina. It is said that he was so well prepared that he did 
not have to study as much as other freshmen ; but while 
his class-mates were struggling over their lessons for next 
day, Peter Smith was sitting under the Davis Poplar play- 
ing the flute or violin, or out elsewhere taking daguerro- 
types. On the day of graduation, however, he stood among 
the best in his class and received his diploma. 

At the age of twenty-five, he married Rebecca 
Whitmel Hill, daughter of Whitmel J. Hill ; and, although 
he had no fondness for the life of a farmer, he was given 
a farm by his father, settled upon it, and became an agri- 
culturist. He was a born mechanic, but did not have the 
opportunity, in early life, to give attention to his devel- 
oping genius along that line. For some years, he followed 
the life of a planter, but finally gave up his farming inter- 
ests and turned his attention entirely to shop work. 

As a mechanic and inventor, he is probably best known. 
He v/as the first man in the county to introduce the use of 
the planing mill. He invented the method of shrinking 
tires; an electric buoy, similar to the kind now used in 
New York harbor; a drill for boring holes through iron 
rails, which was stolen by some Federal raiders during the 
Civil War and patented afterward ; a cotton planter, which 
was among the first of that useful implement on the farm ; 
and others of a minor nature. He was a railroad builder 
of considerable note, was one of the principal contractors 
in the construction of the Kinston branch of the Wil- 
mington and Weldon Railroad, and of the Norfolk and 

During the Civil War, Peter Smith was no slacker. His 
mechanical genius caused his services to be in demand in 


other departments more important than in the ranks. A 
notable example of the work he did during that time is 
the construction of the Confederate Ram Albemarle at 
Edwards' Ferry near Scotland Neck. Gilbert Elliott, of 
Elizabeth City, had the contract for building the boat; 
but Peter Smith was the chief builder. Much of the credit 
for the success of that wonderful piece of mechanism is 
due him. 

After the Civil War, he lived quietly and unpreten- 
tiously at his home in Scotland Neck, working at his trade 
as a mechanic. He had his shops in "Old Clarksville" and 
in addition to his regular work in that line, he mended 
clocks, watches, locks, and guns for his neighbors free of 
charge. His genius, which, in more populous centers, 
might have brought him fame and fortune, was expended 
unsparingly in the interests of his friends almost without 



Among the men intimately connected with the rise and 
progress of Methodism in Halifax County, the name of 
Robert O. Burton stands preeminent. For more than 
fifty years, he labored as an itinerant minister in the Roa- 
noke section of North Carolina, most of the time in desti- 
tute localities, where the people heard him gladly. The 
story of his life is an almost complete account of the be- 
ginning of the Methodist Church in this portion of the 

Robert Oswald Burton was born in Campbell County, 
Virginia, June 30, 1811. His father planned for him a 
military career and fashioned his education with that in 
mind. As soon as he was prepared, he was sent to the 
West Point Military Academy to take up his studies there ; 
but the young soldier, although a brilliant student, did not 
complete the course. Feeling that he was called to preach 
the gospel, he resigned the West Point Cadetship, after 
two years, and returned home. 


Shortly after giving up his prospects of a military ca- 
reer, he joined the Virginia Conference, in 1833, which 
met that year in Petersburg, and was ordained deacon the 
same year and elder in 1837. He was sent in the former 
year, as an itinerant preacher, to that portion of the Vir- 
ginia Conference included in North Carolina with head- 
quarters at Weldon. This was the beginning of his con- 
nection with Halifax County, a relation which continued 
to the day of his death. 

When the North Carolina Conference was organized in 
1837, he became a member of that body and retained 
his membership for more than fifty years. During all 
those years, he was one of the most prominent members 
and wielded an influence which was felt throughout the 
state. He filled some of the most important pastorates in 
the Conference and was several times Presiding Elder. 

On Tvlarch 29, 1842, he was married to Elizabeth Joy- 
ner, daughter of Colonel Andrew Joyner of Weldon, and 
built his home, Wyandoke, near Poplar Grove, the home 
of his father-in-law, a few miles from town, near the pres- 
ent city of Roanoke Rapids. Throughout all the years of 
his ministry, even in other counties, he held this house as 
an anchorage to which he returned, an experience that 
few Methodist preachers have. Here he reared a family 
of nine children. 

The extent of his work can be best judged from the list 
of charges that he had at different times : 

In 1834, Junior preacher on Amelia circuit; 1835, 
Granville circuit; 1836, Greensboro; 1837, Salisbury; 
1838-42, Agent of Randolph-Macon College; 1843, P. E. 
of Washington District; 1846, Henderson Circuit; 1847- 
48, Raleigh Station; 1849-50, Roanoke Circuit; 1851-54. 
Roanoke Circuit; 1855-58, P. E. Raleigh District; 1858, 
transferred to the Virginia Conference; 1859-62, P. E. 
Petersburg District ; 1863, Greenville Circuit ; 1864, Mili- 
tary encampment at Garysburg; 1865, Greenville Circuit; 
1866-68, Union Circuit; 1869, Supt. of Colored work; 
1870, transferred to North Carolina Conference; 1871-3, 


Supt. Colored work; 1874-76, Roanoke Circuit; 1877, Lit- 
tleton Circuit; 1878, Henderson Circuit; 1879-80, Roa- 
noke Circuit; 1881, Edgecombe Circuit; 1882-83, P. E. 
Wilmington District; 1884, P. E. Greensboro District; 
1885-88, Warrenton Circuit; 1889, Ridgeway Circuit. 

As a pulpit orator, he had few equals in the North Caro- 
lina Conference. His language was impassioned and 
forceful, and he rarely ever spoke without leaving a pro- 
found impression upon his hearers. His influence in the 
Conference was almost unlimited. Whenever Dr. Burton 
spoke, the audience gave immediate attention. 

Dr. Burton was not a politician in the sense of seeking 
advantage for himself. He never made an effort to ad- 
vance his own interests in the Episcopacy of his church- 
Several times his name was prominently mentioned in 
connection with the bishopric, but he declined to put forth 
any effort to obtain it. His principal ambition was to 
serve, and, if he could do that in an humble position bet- 
ter than in an exalted one, he was content. Whatever 
honors, therefore, came to him were unsought and wholly 

Dr. Burton was a man of intense religious convictions, 
convincingly in earnest when trying to persuade, and dig- 
nified in both speech and demeanor. While all that was 
in his general character, he was not slow to see the point 
of a joke, or to appreciate real shafts of wit. The follow- 
ing paragraph is taken from an appreciative sketch of 
him printed a few years ago in the Roanoke News. 

"There was a humorous side to Dr. Burton's character 
and many are the quaint stories told of him by those who 
knew him well. One of these is that upon an occasion 
when he was dining away from home, having helped a 
lady quite plentifully, from a dish he was serving, with 
more candor than good breeding she remarked, *I didn't 
want a cart load.' Dr. Burton did not reply, but, biding 
his time, he soon saw that she had eaten all on her plate, 
and then said to her, 'Sister, back your cart up and I'll 
load it again.' " 


One of the most dramatic incidents in his career oc- 
curred at the annual Conference in Greensboro in 1889. The 
motion was made to put the name of R. 0. Burton on the 
superannuated list. Immediately Dr. Burton took the 
floor in his own behalf and combatted the motion, declar- 
ing that he was able to do the work of the pastorate and 
that he wanted to die with his armor on. He made one of 
the greatest speeches of his life and succeeded in getting 
the Conference to place his name on the supernumerary 
list instead. He was thus allowed in his old age and failing 
health to continue in the ministry though with light work. 

Dr. Burton was married twice. His second wife was 
Mary Olivia Pearson, His first marriage was blessed 
with an offspring of four sons, his second of three sons 
and two daughters, all of whom reached maturity. Hav- 
ing reached his four score years by reason of his strength, 
he breathed his last December 17, 1891, at his home near 



Among the able lawyers that Halifax County has pro- 
duced, Robert O. Burton, Jr., ranks high. Although he 
died at an age before most men attain their greatest suc- 
cesses, he can be classed with those who have reflected 
honor upon the county and state. 

He was the fourth son of Dr. Robert O. Burton, a dis- 
tinguished Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Joyner 
Burton, daughter of Colonel Andrew Joyner, a veteran of 
this War of 1812 and for a long time senator from Halifax 
County. Born January 9, 1852, he was a mere lad at the 
time of the Civil War and experienced the hardships of 
that period and grew to manhood during Reconstruction 
Days. Who can tell but that the privations of those days 
taught him lessons that contributed no little to the sturdy 
character he afterwards developed? 

Of his boyhood days, one of his earliest friends, a 


school-mate, has the following to say: "His early years 
were spent like other boys of his neighborhood with the 
distinction of being a favorite at all times among his com- 
rades and school-fellows. At the old school taught by Mr. 
(afterwards Dr.) Archer, it was this writer's privilege 
to share this comradeship. Was a game of 'prisoners 
base' proposed? 'Bob Burton' was the one boy clamored 
for on both sides. Was a less bright boy troubled with 
the solving of what seemed to him intricate problems in 
percentage, or partial payments? Bob Burton was the 
friend to stand between him and Mr. Archer's rod, while 
he, too, sometimes felt the persuasive eloquence of this 
same rod. His nature was calm, cool, thoughtful, and de- 
liberate, and he was at all times ready to help the needy, de- 
fend the weak, and exact justice for his childhood friends." 

Early in life, Robert Burton felt himself called to the 
practice of law. Unwilling, however, to enter this 
learned profession without being fully equipped, as a 
boy, he began to canvass the situation to secure the funds 
needed for the completion of a college course. The dis- 
asters of the war and reconstruction days left the boy, 
along with others, almost penniless. His father's in- 
come, now reduced, and his mother's fortune, now swept 
away, added nothing to his prospects. His opportunity 
to complete his academic education seemed indeed slight. 

Determined, however, to go to college, the nineteen year 
old boy taught school for a year near Ridgeway, N. C, 
and practiced the most rigid economy in order to save 
money. He boarded that year in the home of Thomas 
Carroll, whose daughter he afterwards married. His 
work as a teacher was as conscientiously done as his 
larger labors afterwards as a lawyer were accomplished. 

Finishing the school year as a teacher, he prepared to 
enter college in the fall of 1872. He matriculated at Ran- 
dolph-Macon and was a close student for about two years. 
He did not take a degree, but his work was so well done 
that he won the respect and confidence of the faculty and 
student body. It is said that as a student he was methodi- 


cal and systematic. When prevailed upon by his fellow 
students to play ball with them, he would promise to play 
only for a certain length of time, and when it was out, he 
would quit and go back to his studies. No one was more 
conscientious in his work than he. 

Leaving college in 1873, he taught school again for a 
year in order to pay some college debts. While teaching 
he read law privately, and, in 1874, received his license 
and located in the town of Halifax. There he formed a 
partnership with Edward Conigland, which continued 
until the tragic death of the latter in 1877. For fifteen 
years, he practiced at the bar of Halifax and was one of 
the leading barristers in that historic town. He fought 
many legal battles during that time, and in all of them, 
he won fairly or lost because his adversary had the bet- 
ter cause. 

In 1889, in search of a broader field, he moved to Rich- 
mond, Va., and remained about a year. Returning to 
North Carolina, he located in Raleigh, and, for nine years 
was one of the leading attorneys of the capital city. En- 
dowed with two natural gifts, a strong mind and un- 
wearied diligence, Robert Burton built up a wide practice, 
which began to be lucrative and exacting. Speaking of 
his success, the News and Observer made the following 
remark : 

"Mr. Burton's most notable victory at the bar was 
when he won the difficult and celebrated case of State vs. 
Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. By the terms of its 
charter, that railroad claimed and exercised exemption 
from taxation. The Supreme Court of the United States 
had affirmed their right to exemption in a case that 
went up before it built any branches. After it had built 
numerous branches and had come to be one of the best 
paying railroads in the whole country, the State felt that, 
even if the exemption on the main line could hold, the road 
could not go on building numerous branch lines and feed- 
ers without subjecting such property to taxation. There 
was much agitation of the matter between 1888 and 1891, 


during the administration of Governor Fowle. After an in- 
vestigation of the matter, Governor Fowle and State 
Treasurer Bain determined to test the right of the 
claimed exemption, and Mr. Burton, Mr, Ryan, and per- 
haps other attorneys were retained to represent the State. 
Mr. Burton entered into this difficult case with all his 
zeal, giving ahnost his whole time tn a study of the ques- 
tion. Most of the law\'ers thought that the exemption 
was unlimited and perpetual, and that nothing could be 
done which would subject that property to taxation. The 
difficulties were many. But Mr. Burton's ability and gen- 
ius wxre able to overcome them. He made a test case that 
was tried when Judge Connor was on the Superior Court 
Bench. Judge Connor decided that Mr. Burton's con- 
tention was sound and he had won first blood. The case 
was one of such gi-eat importance that Judge Connor 
rendered his decision in an ably written opinion. The 
railroad appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr, Burton's 
argument there was one of the ablest that has been heard 
in the chamber of the State's highest court. The court 
affirmed Judge Connor. The opinion of the court was de- 
livered by Justice Clark. The opinions of Judge Connor 
and Justice Clark, sustaining the contention made for 
the State by Mr. Burton, made it so clear that the exemp- 
tion could not long stand that at the next session of the 
Legislature a compromise was effected by which the rail- 
road surrendered all claim to exemption from taxation. It 
is the most important case that has been decided in North 
Carolina in a quarter of a century, and his success in that 
case gave Mr. Burton wide reputation and rank with the 
first lawj'ers of the State." 

That case established his reputation in North Carolina 
and, thereafter, his success was assured. Some years af- 
terward, the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Company, 
having recognized his ability in the great legal battle 
against them, secured his services to represent them at 
the State capitol ; and, true to his instincts as a lawyer, he 
accepted the trust, thus becoming the defender of the Co]'- 


poration that he had so ardently fought a few years be- 
fore, a distinct compliment to his ability and integrity. 

The last legal battle in which he appeared was the cele- 
brated case of Gattis vs. Kilgo, which was tried in Oxford 
the latter part of November, 1900. His speech on that 
occasion for the defendant was one of the best ever de- 
livered in the Granville Courthouse. He went home and 
took his bed with a raging fever. He died December 27, 

Robert 0. Burton was a lawyer. He was devoted to 
his profession, and avoided politics. May 29, 1878, he was 
married to Mary Carroll, who survived him. 



One of the young men that Halifax County sent to the 
Great European War and who came not back again was 
William T. Shaw, Jr., who was killed in action in the Sec- 
ond Battle of the Marne, July 16, 1918. The record of his 
brief life deserves a place in the annals of the county. 

William Shaw, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Shaw, of Wel- 
don, was born June 21, 1892. His early life was spent un- 
der ideal influences, developing in him those high traits of 
character that distinguished him throughout his brief 
life. As a pupil in school, he easily led his classes and was 
regarded by teachers and class-mates as a boy of superior 

He was fond of athletics, and was usually leader of the 
boys on the playground. In all his school life, both on 
class and on the athletic field, he was the champion of fair 
play. William Shaw's word went a long way in the decis- 
ion of questions of right or wrong among his play-fellows. 

Before completing the course at the Weldon High School, 
he was sent to the College of Agriculture and Mechanic 
Arts, Raleigh, N. C, for the purpose of studying textile 
industry. There, as he had done in the preparatory school, 


he led his classes, graduating with honor in 1914. While 
in college, he was made captain of one of the companies of 
the cadet battalion, and ranked high as a soldier and a dis- 
ciplinarian. In a competitive drill, his company easily won 
the prize as the best trained men in college. 

Leaving college in 1914, he accepted work in one of the 
cotton mills in Danville, Va., where he remained a year. 
Returning to Weldon in 1915, he was made Superintendent 
of one of the mills of the Weldon Manufacturing Company, 
and continued in that capacity until August, 1917, when 
he volunteered for service in the Great War. He entered 
the Officers' Training Camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., for 
three months' intensive drill for a commission in the Unit- 
ed States army. In November, he was commissioned cap- 
tain, an honor bestowed upon few. 

Upon winning this high honor at the Training Camp, 
William Shaw was assigned to the Fifty-First Regiment 
of Infantry and ordered to report for duty at Fort Ogle- 
thorpe early in December, 1917. His duties there for four 
months brought him in contact with some of the best 
drilled men in the United States Army, and in every trial 
of skill, Shaw was a match for the best. 

Early in May, 1918, William Shaw's regiment received 
orders for overseas duty and entrained for Hoboken. There 
he was detained for several weeks, but finally embarka- 
tion orders came and he joined his company in France 
about the last of May. After a month's training behind 
the lines, his regiment was ordered to the front about the 
time the Germans made their last great drive in July. Ar- 
riving upon the battle front, these fresh American troops, 
anxious for a trial of strength with the famous Prussian 
guards, were thrown into the thickest of the fight and 
brought the advance of the enemy to a standstill. A few 
days later when the time came for the great counter at- 
tack of the allies, Captain Shaw led the charge upon the 
hitherto invincible Prussians and forced them to give 
ground ; but in that victorious advance, Shaw received a 
mortal wound, dying in the arms of victory. 


William Shaw was a hero and a patriot. When great 
pressure was brought to bear upon him to remain in the 
productive occupation he was in and take deferred classi- 
fication in the draft, he replied that it was his duty to go 
and fight for the cause of humanity and justice. When his 
mother endeavored to persuade him to remain at home un- 
til there was a more urgent call, he said, "It is my duty to 
go, and, mother, it is your duty as a Christian to bid me 
go." Thus did he see his duty clearly, and seeing it he 
dared to perform it. 


To give a biographical sketch of all the men who have 
left their impress upon the County and State would take 
these pages far beyond the original purpose, and yet there 
are others whose lives and deeds are like "Apples of gold 
in pictures of silver". Only a brief mention of them can 
now be made because of the difficulties in getting posses- 
sion of the facts. Perhaps some Boswell will be induced 
to do the delving that is necessary to discover the hidden 
gems, and will some time bring them to the light. 

Abner Nash, who, afterwards, became Governor of the 
State, lived in the county many years. He was, for sev- 
eral times, a member of the General Assembly, part of the 
time representing the town of Halifax and at other times 
the County. He owned at one time immense tracts of land 
on the Roanoke river, but he later sold his belongings and 
moved to Hillsboro. 

Rev. Thomas Burgess was a pioneer Episcopal minis- 
ter, who was among the first religious teachers to work 
in the borders of the present county. He was one of the 
few ministers of the Church of England in North Caro- 
lina in the middle of the eighteenth century. His field was 
the parish of Edgecombe, which later became the County 
of Halifax. He was for years rector of the Episcopal 
Church in the town of Halifax. 


William E. Webb was an educator of ability and a man 
of considerable influence in the town of Halifax during 
the first quarter of the eighteenth century. In addition 
to being a teacher and Principal of Union Academy, he 
was for three terms a representative from the county in 
the General Assembly. 

John Campbell was for some years editor of the Hali- 
fax Minerva, a weekly newspaper published in the town 
of Halifax about 1830. He later quit the newspaper work 
and came to Weldon to live, became a railroad employe, 
organized the first lodge of Odd Fellows in North Caro- 
lina, and later, became the first Grand Master of the Grand 
Jurisdiction of North Carolina. 

William H. Kitchin was one of the Democratic war- 
horses of the period following the Civil War. Leading a 
forlorn hope in 1878, he accepted the nomination for Con- 
gress, and, by adroit political maneuvering, divided the 
opposition to him into two hostile camps and was elected 
by a plurality vote. His influence in politics was felt in 
the State for a number of years, and he was considered one 
of the best stump speakers in Eastern North Carolina. 
His two eminent sons. Will and Claude, are still adding 
honor to the County of Halifax. 

Rev. Thomas G. Lowe was, during the period following 
the Civil War, a distinguished minister of the Methodist 
Church. He was an eloquent speaker and was known all 
over the State as one of the best equipped preachers of 
the Methodist denomination. He lived in the town of 

William A. Dunn, for a number of years following the 
Civil War, was a prominent lawyer of Scotland Neck. He 
had a large practice, and, for a long time, was a leader 
socially, economically, and commercially of his section of 
the county. 

John A. Collins was a prominent physician of Enfield, 
and a political leader for almost a generation. Small of 
body but with a big heart and brain, he wielded a large 
influence in the affairs of the county until his death in 


William H. Day was a lawyer of considerable ability of 
Weldon during Reconstruction Days, and for years after- 
ward. He was one of the best criminal lawyers of his day. 
In later life he moved to Raleigh and was prominent at 
the bar of that city when he died. 

W. T. Whitfield, who was born near Weldon, made his 
home in that place in 1834 when a boy fourteen years old 
and was a factor in the upbuilding of the place for seventy- 
six years, dying at the age of ninety. For thirty-five years, 
he was the agent of the Southern Express Company in 
Weldon. He was a prominent Odd Fellow, and did much 
in building up that brotherhood in North Carolina. 

And these lived and wrought and "slept with their 
fathers", and their works do follow them. 



Albemarle, the ironclad ram used 

by the Confederates in the Civil 

War, 116-120. 
Allen, Elisha, 90 
Allen, Hamlin, 90. 
Allen, James, 53, 57. 
Allen, John, 46, 47. 
Allen, Walter N., sketch of, 204,-206. 
Alston, William, 25, 28. 
Alston, Willis, 31, 34, 37, 40, 43, 68, 

105; sketch of, 168. 
Alston, Willis, Jr., 69; sketch of, 169, 

Ashe, John B., 7, 68, 69, 95, 103; 

sketch of, 151-153. 

Baker, Blake, representative of Hali- 
fax County in Colonial Assembly, 
16, 17. 

Baker, L. S., 121. 

Barrow, Jacob, 42. 

Bertie precinct, organized in 1722, 6; 
Halifax County included in, 7; new 
precinct formed from, called Edge- 
combe precinct, 7. 

Blount, William, 65. 
/ Bradford, John, 25, 28, 31, 33, 40, 41; 
'' sketch of, 172, 173. 

Branch, John, 53, 54, 68, 72, 77, 99, 
105, 144; sketch of, 177-181. 

Branch, L. O'B., 75, 121; sketch of, 

Burgess, Rev. Thomas, 229. 

Burke, Thomas, 32. 

Burton, Hutchings G., 103; curious 
story connected with his death, 
140; sketch of, 181-183. 

Burton, Rev. Robert O., sketch of, 

Burton, Robert O, Jr., sketch of, 223- 

Bynum, Jesse A., 99, 103; rivalry be- 
tween, and Robert Potter, 186-188. 

Campbell, John, 81, 230. 
Campbell, John K., 90. 
Caswell, Richard, 40, 43, 45, 05. 

Champion, John, 37, 41. 

Chowan, river, 6. 

Clarendon County, 9. 

Clark, David C, 121. 

Collins, John A., 230. 

Colonial Assembly, list of representa- 
tives to, from Borough and County 
of Halifax, 21. 

Committee of Safety appointed, 25; 
met in Halifax, Dec. 21, 1774, 26. 

Conigland, Edward, sketch of, 194, 

Constitutional Convention and Con- 
gress, 40-43. 

Cox, P., 37. 

Cox, W. R., 121. 

Crawley, David, 33. 

Crowell family, 136-138. 

Daniel, John R. J., 99; sketch of, 

185, 186. 
Daniel, Joseph J., 72, 99, 103; sketch 

of, 183-185. 
Daniel, Junius, 121; sketch of, 196- 

Davie, William R., 63, 65, 68, 69, 103, 

144; s'ketch of, 156-162. 
Davis, James, 42. 
Davis, Orondates, 53, 68, 105; sketch 

of, 171, 172. 
Dawson, Henry, 37, 42. 
Day, William, 43. 
Day, William H., 231. 
Dewey, Stephen, first representative 

of town of Halifax in Colonial As- 
sembly, 16, 17. 
Drew, William, 72, 103. 
Dunn, William A., 230. 

Eaton, Thomas, 35, 43. 

Edgecombe precinct organized in 
1732, 7; long contest over, 7, 11; 
became Edgecombe County in 
1738, 8; divided into two parishes, 
of which Edgecombe Parish be- 
came Halifax County, 8. 

Elliott, Gilbert, constructor of the 



Confederate ram Albemarle, 116; 

description of the vessel by, quoted, 

Emery, Thomas L., sketch of, 206- 

Enfield, oldest town in Halifax Count- 

ty, 11, 12; made county seat of 

Edgecombe County in 1745, 11, 12; 

seat of district court of Edgecombe, 

Northampton, and Granville, 12. 
Enfield Academy, 77. 

Farmwell Grove Academy, 77. 
Freemasonry in Halifax, 92-98. 

Geddy, John, 25, 27, 43. 

Glasgov/, James, 40, 43. 

Green, James, 31, 40. 

Green, James, Jr., secretary of Pro- 
vincial Congress at Halifax, April 
4, 1776, 31. 

Halifax County, formed in 1758 
from part of Edgecombe precinct, 
7, 14; settled as early as 1732, 11; 
population in 1758 nearly 3000, 14; 
Halifax selected as county seat, 15; 
resolutions passed by freeholders of, 
August 22, 1774, 23, 24; spirit of 
independence in, pronounced, 30, 
31; its part in the Revolutionary 
War, 31-61; and the national consti- 
tution, 65, 66; influential in Federal 
Congress, 69; roster of two com- 
panies of volunteers in war of 1812 
from, 70, 71; visit of Lafayette to, 
73, 74; schools in, 76-79; news- 
papers in, 80, 81; coming of rail- 
roads, 87; cultivation of fruits 
popular industry, 87; in the Mexi- 
can War, 100; in the State Legisla- 
ture, 103-105; in the Civil War, 
107-127; reconstruction days in, 
128-131; list of state representa- 
tives, 1891-1917, 132; active part 
of county in the World War, 134; 
members of National House of 
Representatives from, 144; State 
officers from, 144, 145. 

Halifax, town, chosen as county seat 
of Halifax County, 15; occupied by 
the British, 57; celebrates surren- 
der of Cornwallis, 62; Visit of Wash- 
ington to, and his description of, in 

his Diary, 66, 67; for many years 
after the Revolution political centre 
of State, 80; list of representatives 
in the State Legislature, 102; his- 
toric homes in, 141, 142. 

Hamilton, John, 28, 34; sketch of, 38, 

Harnett, Cornelius, 28, 32, 37, 40, 43. 

Haynes, Thomas, 25. 

Haywood, Egbert, 25, 28, 33, 40, 53, 

Haywood, John, 68; sketch of, 165- 

Haywood, William, 43. 

Hewes, Joseph, 34, 37, 41. 

Hill, Thomas N., sketch of, 215-218. 

Hodge, Abraham, 81; sketch of, 176, 

Hogan, James, 25, 27, 31, 34, 40, 41, 
42, 52; sketch of, 162-164. 

Hooper, William, 34, 37, 41. 

Indians, various tribes in Halifax 
County before the coming of the 
whites, 3; cultivation of soil by, 
rude, 4; peaceable relations with 
whites, 4; disappeared by 1720, 5. 

Ivedell, James, 66. 

Irwin, Henry, 28. 

Johnston, Samuel, president of Pro- 
vincial Congress at Halifax, April 
4, 1776,31. 

Jones, Albritton, 42. 

Jones, Allen, 32, 33, 53, 56, 57, 61. 

Jones, John Paul, 48-51; sketch of, 

Jones, Thomas, 32, 42, 43. 

Jones, Willie, 25, 26, 27, 31, 34, 37, 40, 
41, 42, 45,,' 53, 62, 65, 67, 68, 95; 
sketch of, 153-156. 

Jovner, Andrew, 88, 91; sketch of, 190- 

Kehukbe Creek, settlement on, in 
1742, 12; oldest Baptist church in 
North Carolina at, 12. 

Kinchin, M., 32. 

Kitchin, Claude, 133, 134. 

Kitchin, W. H., 133, 230. 

La Vallie Female Academy, 78. 
Leech, Joseph, 43. 
London, David, 92. 



Long, Nicholas, 25, 27, 34, 41, 57, 68; 

sketch of, 170, 171. 
Long, William Lunsford, 90. 
Lynch, George Green, 212-214. 
Lowe, Rev. Thomas, G., 230. 

McCuLLOCH, Benjamin, 34, 40, 68, 

McCullough, Alexander, representa- 
tive of Halifax County in Colonial 
Assembly, 16, 17. 

Martin, Alexander, 65, 105. 

Miller, Andrew, Merchant of Halifax, 
boycotted for refusing to sign Reso- 
lutions of the Association, 26; prop- 
erty confiscated in 1779, 27. 

Milner, James, 27. 

Montford, Joseph, 16, 21, 26, 27, 92, 
94, 95, 98, 97. 

Montford, Henry, 42, 53, 68. 

Montford, Joseph, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 
143; sketch of, 149-151. 

Moore, B. F., 99, 105; sketch of, 188- 

Moore, James, story of a privateer's 
adventures by, 138, 139. 

Munday, Caleb, 37. 

Nash, Abner, 22, 32, 41, 56, 57, 229. 
Nash, Francis, 27. 
Newspapers in Halifax, 80, 81. 
Noblin, William, 37, 42. 
North Carolina, early settlers of, 
from Virginia, 9. 

Parker, Francis M., sketch of, 201, 

Parsons, James M., 37. 

Pearce, Josiah, 41. - 

Penn, John, 34, 37, 105. 

Peterson, E. K., 90. 

Potter, Robert, 103; rivalry between, 
and Jesse A. Bynum, 186-188. 

Provincial Congress at Halifax, 25, 
27; authorizes enrollment of minute 
men, 27, 28; organizes Provincial 
Council, 28; important steps in 
favor of independence of the col- 
onies, 31-35. 

Provincial Council of Safety, at Hali- 
fax, 36, 37, 40. 

QuARLES, Peter, 68. 
Quit-rents, trouble over, 18-20. 

Regulators, in Orange County, 22, 

Religion, progress of, in Halifax, 82- 

Rice, Nathaniel, 7. 

Roanoke Navigation Company, open- 
ing of Canal by, 88. 

Roanoke, river, 3; called "Morotuck" 
by the Indians, 7. 

Royal White Hart Lodge, 92-98. 

Scotland Neck Female Academy, 78. 

Scurlock Thomas, 54. 

Sevier, John, 41. 

Shaw, William T., Jr., sketch of, 227- 

Simmons, James, 90. 
Smith, Peter Evans, sketch of, 218- 

Smith, Richard H., sketch of, 209-212. 
Spaight, Richard Dobbs, 65. 
Starkey, Edward, 43. 
Sumner, David, 25, 27, 28, 31, 34. 
Sumner, Jethro, 28. 
Sumner, Josiah, 34. 

Tories, very few in Halifax County, 

26, 28. 
Tyron, William, governor of Province 

in 1765, 22; calls on counties for 

troops to fight Regulators, 23. 
Tuscaroras, Indians who inhabited 

Halifax County before the coming 

of the whites, 3. 

Union Academy, 77. 

Vine Hill Academy, 77. 

Webb, John, 27, 28, 32, 34, 37, 68. 

Webb, William E., 77, 230. 

Weldon, Samuel, 25, 34, 40, 41, 43; 

sketch of, 165. 
Weldon, William, 53, 54. 
Wheaton, John, 43. 
-'^Whitaker, John, 53. 

Whitaker, Matthew C, 68, 107. 
Whi taker, Spier, 105; sketch of, 202, 

Whitefield, W. T., 231. 
Willis, Augustine, 53. 
Williams, Joseph John, 25, 31, 35. 
Williamson, Hugh, 65. 
Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, 

opened in 1840, 89. 

-^-^ 9 6 6 

i\ Seaver-KowundPkess 

V^ E7I Franklin St. 


Deacidified using the Bookkeeper proce; 
Neutralizing Agent: Magnesiurri Oxide 
Treatment Date: 

1 1 1 Thomson PaA Drive 
Oanberry Township, PA 16066